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Trump decertifies ‘worst’ Iran Nuclear deal, calls for fixes of ‘serious flaws’

US President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement .

world Updated: Oct 14, 2017 00:05 IST
Yashwant Raj
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017. (REUTERS Photo)

US President Donald Trump on Friday announced he cannot certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 multilateral agreement but will stay with it for now and his administration will work with congress and allies to fix its many “serious flaws”, mostly unrelated to the country’s nuclear programme.

The president also said he had instructed his administration to designate the “entire” Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), calling it “a corrupt personal terror force and militia” of the Iranian government, and slap sanctions against it officials, agents and affiliates.

President Trump, who has been a long-time critic of the Iran deal — officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — said, “As I have said many times the Iran deal was one of the worst and one sided deals the United States has ever entered into.”

He added that Iran had “not lived up to the spirit of the deal”.

The president said he would ask congress to fix the many “serious flaws”, and in the “event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated”.

This is the latest international agreement questioned by Trump, who has already pulled the United States out of a trade pact with North American neighbours, a Pacific trade deal and the Paris Climate Accord.

The new plan that was outlined by secretary of state Rex Tillerson to reporters Thursday night will be a blow to the 2015 agreement, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but will not kill it, for now.

“The president has on many occasions talked about either tearing the deal up or fixing the deal,” Tillerson had said, adding, “I think what we’re laying out here is, this is a pathway we think that provides us the best platform from which to attempt to fix this deal.”

The secretary of state said Trump will tell congress he cannot certify Iran’s compliance, as required by a domestic US law, and recommend it should add “trigger points” for sanctions to set in automatically for non-nuclear actions by Iran, such as support for terrorism and other destabilizing measures.

“If Iran crosses any of these trigger points, the sanctions automatically go back in place,” Tillerson said. “These are trigger points specific to the nuclear program itself, but they also deal with things like [Iran’s] ballistic missile program.”

Congress will also have the option to do nothing. Or, it can reimpose sanctions, which would essentially kill the agreement.

Tillerson indicated that the administration was aware of the difficult path ahead on Capitol Hill. “I don’t want to suggest to you this is a slam dunk up there on [Capitol Hill]. We know it’s not,” he said.

There was also no guarantee other signatories to the JCPOA — Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russian and China will be willing to consider changes. The agreement, which was signed after years of intense negotiations, capped for a period Iran’s nuclear weapons programme in return for lifting crippling economic sanctions against the country.

A wary congress had passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) just weeks ahead of signing of the multilateral to prevent the president, then Barack Obama, from rolling back the sanctions the consent of congress and required a certification from the administration after 90 days of Iran’s compliance of the conditions of the JCPOA.

Trump has already given that certification twice — and even now Tillerson said Iran was in technical compliance. As a candidate for the White House, Trump had vowed to tear up the Iran nuclear agreement if elected calling it the worst deal he had seen, ever. He still could, but he is apparently willing to try other measures, even if it’s for the sake of form, before he pulls out, which he had said he has wanted to.

India will be observing closely as it was forced to re-orient its crude oil supplies the last time the United States imposed sanctions on Iran and threatened to block its non-complying trading partners from the American banking system, the hub of the world’s financial order.

This time around, India is in a better position having been forced to diversify its crude supplying base, but Iran is also a long-time political partner. The two countries are jointly developing a crucial Iranian port — Chabahar — giving India access to Afghanistan.