Iran deal's foes in US Congress may be its unlikely saviors

Nuclear experts said during the campaign that Trump was not trustworthy to command the nation's nuclear arsenal

The U.S. administration has faced two 90-day certification deadlines to state whether Iran is meeting the conditions needed to continue enjoying sanctions relief under the deal and has both times backed away from a showdown.

The EU foreign policy chief says Washington's possible withdrawal from the Iran deal will send a message to the worldwide community that the USA is not trustworthy when it comes to deal making.

On Wednesday, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is considering "various scenarios" in response to Trump's "probable withdrawal" from the worldwide nuclear deal.

Political observers have warned that any unilateral action by the United States based on unsupported claims of Iranian non-compliance would isolate Washington, impede future efforts for other nonproliferation agreements in the broader global community and increase the likelihood of a wider conflict in the Middle East. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, are wary of decertification because it would constitute a "material breach" of the agreement and could destroy it.

Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, was one of four Senate Democrats who opposed the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015.

De-certifying would not withdraw the United States from the deal but it would give the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement.

The White House is seeking to extend or eliminate the expiration date for so-called "sunset" provisions, which limit the amount of uranium Iran is allowed to enrich.

"The decision by Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement, nearly guarantees that [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un will not negotiate with America", Murphy said.

Engel said the United States must "live up to our word". "Once it was entered into, once it was implemented, we want to see it enforced".

The certification would also demand that the intelligence community produce judgments on a wide range of Iranian behaviour that is not covered by the nuclear deal, including ballistic missile testing and development, support for Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and Syrian President Bashar Assad and threats to Israel and the Mideast more broadly, according to the drafts.




Touching on speculations about the likelihood of renegotiation of the deal, Mogherini pointed to the "extremely complex nuclear aspects" of the JCPOA which have been ironed out over 12 years of intensive negotiations, saying, "It is not a deal you can easily open and renegotiate".

Federica Mogherini, while talking to PBS TV channel, on Wednesday, highlighted Iran's full compliance with the 2015 deal. If any points of the agreement are violated by Iran, sanctions against the country will be renewed.

First, Congress could vote to snap sanctions back into place, or Trump could refuse to sign the next round of waivers for sanctions.

How would the European Union and Iran react to a possible US withdrawal?

Notably, the committee's top Republican, Rep. Ed Royce, said the US should adhere to the deal. He also is expected to target the country's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard with new sanctions.

The Europeans seem more inclined to try to "build" on the deal in this way.

To win over some conservative Republicans and Iran hawks, Corker and other leaders are considering proposing sanctions on Iran's non-nuclear activities and broader inspections, particularly of Iranian military facilities.

But it could be hard to get both Iran and its ally, Russia, back to the table for a new round of talks.

Even more than the actual deal, Mr Trump detests the certification requirement, which forces him to sign off every three months on an accord he has called the worst deal ever negotiated by the United States, according to the officials. Many Democrats believe that is more likely to happen if Congress does not act to make changes to the existing agreement.

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