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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Trump strikes a blow against Iran deal, defies world powers

Trump delivered his much-anticipated speech

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TEHRAN, Iran - Defying calls by world powers, on Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement if Congress and U.S. allies do not agree to strengthen the deal. 

Unveiling tough and comprehensive new policy towards Iran, Trump delivered his much-anticipated speech at the White House and said, "As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Even though the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S.’s European allies and even his own government claiming that Tehran is complying with the 2015 deal, Trump accused Iran of committing "multiple violations of the agreement.”

In fact, the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified eight times already that Iran has lived up to its end of the deal.

Trump however said that Iran had "failed to meet our expectations in its operations of advanced centrifuges," and "intimidated" international inspectors into not using their full authority. 

He further accused the Obama administration, which struck the deal with Iran and other world powers, of lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic under the terms of the deal at a moment when the Iranian clerical regime was about to collapse.

Trump’s assessment however was seen to be in contradiction of views expressed by many experts.

The President has announced that he would no longer make regular certifications that the lifting of sanctions under the deal was in the U.S. interests.

He said, “We cannot and will not make this certification. We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout. I am directing my administration to work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal's many serious flaws so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons."

He added that the flaws of the agreement included "sunset" provisions under which limits on Iran's nuclear program will begin to expire. 

However, proponents of the deal dispute that. 

Trump also warned that the deal was plagued by "insufficient enforcement" and near total silence on the missile program.

He threatened to walk away from the deal if he did not get the changes he wanted.

Adding, “History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes.” 

America’s allies who oppose re-opening the deal immediately expressed dismay, even though they support countering what they see as nefarious Iranian activity throughout the Middle East.

However, analysts have noted that while the President did not rip up the agreement, its fate is now in the hands of the Congress. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier suggested that if Congress does not agree to impose new sanctions on Iran the deal would remain in place. 

However, Trump's warning that he would terminate the agreement appeared to call that belief into question.

Now, the Congress has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions that would likely cause Iran to walk away from the deal.

If lawmakers decide to impose new punitive economic sanctions on Iran, the deal is likely to fall apart. 

Trump wants members of Congress to adopt new measures that would keep the deal intact, but set parameters by which the U.S. would impose new sanctions should Iran violate its agreements.

In 2015, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed between Iran and the six-nation group including Russia, U.K., China, U.S., France and Germany.

The agreement on settlement of the long-standing Iran nuclear problem led to lifting of sanctions introduced against Iran due to its nuclear program by the UN Security Council, the U.S. and the European Union. 

In return, Tehran obliged to limit its nuclear activity by placing it under international control. 

The deal was launched in January 2016.

While Trump certified the deal over the summer, he continued to resent his top aides for pressuring him to do it and even stated publicly in an interview later that he would rather have decertified the agreement.

However, Trump's advisers and foreign counterparts have warned that a complete removal of America from the nuclear deal would isolate it and provide an opening for Iran to rethink its own commitments on reducing nuclear stockpiles.

Trump said on Friday, ”In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review and our participation can be cancelled by me as President at any time."

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the Iran nuclear deal is a robust agreement that is working and cannot be terminated by any leader, including Trump.

Mogherini, who worked on behalf of major world powers to secure the deal, said that the accord "is a robust deal that provides guarantees and a strong monitoring mechanism so that Iran's nuclear program is, and will remain, exclusively for civilian purposes only."

Mogherini also told journalists in Brussels, “To my knowledge there is not one single country in the world that can terminate a UN security council resolution that has been adopted. The president of the United States has many powers, but not this one.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Iran nuclear deal is "fatally flawed" and that he backs Trump's decision to re-examine the seven-nation accord.

He said weaknesses in the nuclear agreement will allow Iran "to pursue nuclear weapons under the guise of international legitimacy" once specific restrictions on Iran's nuclear program expire after predetermined periods of time.

Ryan added that simply enforcing a bad agreement is not sufficient and said the GOP-led House will work with the Trump administration "to counter Iran's range of destabilizing activities."

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has for years lobbied for a tougher U.S. policy against Iran, too was quick to praise the speech.

He said he wanted to “congratulate President Trump for his courageous decision today” and for “boldly confront[ing] Iran’s terrorist regime.”

He said, “President Trump has just created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression, and to confront its criminal support of terrorism. That’s why Israel embraces this opportunity.”

 

 

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