As the October 15 deadline approaches for President Donald Trump to inform Congress if he will recertify the nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), his final decision presents an opportunity for him to chart his own course in Republican foreign policy—one that puts Americans’ interests above the interests of their Middle Eastern allies who consider Iran their greatest geopolitical threat.
Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) right after the JCPOA, requiring the president to inform Congress every three months if Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If the president finds that Iran is not complying, the United States doesn’t automatically exit the deal, rather, Congress then has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on the country.
During the presidential campaign, Trump often criticized the JCPOA as “an embarrassment to our country,” saying Obama should have treated the release of American prisoners in Iran as a prerequisite for any deal, and claiming Obama gave Iran the impression that it would not walk away from the negotiating table regardless of the outcome.
Trump told the Wall Street Journal in July, “If it was up to me, I would have had [the Iranians] noncompliant 180 days ago.” Then, in his speech before the United Nations on September 19, he blasted the Iranian government for masking its corrupt dictatorship, funding terrorists, “undermining peace throughout the Middle East,” and “building dangerous missiles.”
But Iran’s missile program can’t reach the U.S. Furthermore, even if it could, without nuclear warheads it would be completely impotent against the superior conventional militaries of Israel and the U.S.—not to mention the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In addition, Iran’s missiles don’t factor into the deal.
Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, has also expressed outright hostility toward the deal and the nation of Iran itself. In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on September 5, she insisted that Iran has violated the deal. But the only two examples she could give were when Iran briefly exceeded its suggested limit of heavy water twice in 2016.Continue reading