The Iran deal, which gave Iran a yellow brick road lined with pallets of cash towards a nuclear weapon, may have been horribly negotiated by Obama, according to its critics.
But, even Trump has to tip his hat to Obama for doing one thing successfully, which was to make the agreement very, very difficult for America to exit.
In a move that is certain to frustrate many of his most conservative supporters, President Trump has again announced that he will re-certify the Iran deal, despite his obvious reluctance to do so.
According to the New York Times:
President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a planned announcement as a legal deadline loomed.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly condemned the deal brokered by President Barack Obama as a dangerous capitulation to Iran, but six months into his presidency he has not abandoned it. The decision on Monday was the second time his administration certified Iran’s compliance, and aides said a frustrated Mr. Trump had told his security team that he would not keep doing so indefinitely.
Trump’s dislike of the agreement with Iran has been well-documented.
As a presidential candidate, Trump spoke at a September 2015 rally to protest the treaty, complaining that “we are led by very, very stupid people.”
And early in his presidency Trump said “I think it was the worst deal I’ve ever seen negotiated.”
There is no indication that Trump’s position has changed, or that he grudgingly admits that it’s working (as some at MSNBC are reporting).
However, there’s strong indication simply ripping up the agreement is more problematic than he may have expected.
Trump’s challenge seems to be Iran is technically in compliance with the deal, even if in violation of its spirit.
As ABC news reports:
The U.S. has certified with Congress that Iran is legally in compliance on the nuclear deal, but senior Trump administration officials said both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and President Donald Trump will couch that certification with an accusation that Iran is “unquestionably in default of the spirit of the [agreement].”
The officials pointed to “a range of malign activities” including Iran’s ballistic missile development, support of militant groups in the region and Syria’s Assad regime, its hostility to Israel and its continued detention of foreigners including U.S. citizens.
It can be argued that the horse is already out of the barn when it comes to the deal.
As Time.com wrote in April after Trump’s first certification:
The truth is the Trump Administration is boxed in. Most of the important concessions the world made to Iran have already kicked in, including opening up of Iran for outside business and returning tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets. Trashing the deal now would allow Iran to restart its nuclear program, while leaving Tehran holding most or all of the goodies that were offered as enticement to suspend it.
Therefore, an American unilateral withdrawal may only green-light Iran’s nuclear program, as well as further provoking European allies who favor it.
This is not to say, however, the U.S. is permanently locked in.
The deal must be re-certified every 90 days, and given Trump’s view — as well as the political pressure being put on the administration by Conservatives — it would not be surprising if this certification will be the last.
Furthermore, Iran — who, as pointed out, has already profited from the deal — now has little incentive for staying within compliance, especially given the hostile US-Iran relationship.
It is possible — perhaps even likely — that Iran will withdraw from the deal to pursue nuclear weapons in the near future.
Here’s to seeing what the next 90 days hold.