Is Trump learning to live with Iran nuclear deal?

Al Monitor | Laura Rozen: In a kind of reverse Dr. Strangelove, the Donald Trump administration certified to Congress April 18 that Iran is complying with the landmark nuclear deal, while saying it is undertaking a review of whether waiving the relevant US sanctions next month advances US national security interests. The action, made in a letter from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan April 18, suggests that the Trump administration may be moving unenthusiastically to uphold and enforce the Iran nuclear deal, while looking to pressure Iran on areas not covered by the nuclear accord, including Iran’s ballistic missile program, human rights and what the United States considers Iran’s destabilizing actions in the region.

While the Trump administration is conducting a comprehensive review of its Iran policy, Tillerson expressed dissatisfaction that the JCPOA does not address a long list of grievances the United States has with Iran’s behavior.

“The JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran,” but only delays it, Tillerson said in a live statement to the press April 19. It “completely ignored all of the other serious threats Iran poses.”

“Iran spends its treasure and time disrupting peace,” Tillerson said.

In begrudgingly certifying that Iran is abiding by the terms of the JCPOA, the Trump administration signaled it may be coming to understand the merits of preserving the nuclear accord, at least for now, while viewing Iran as a hostile and destabilizing actor on other fronts, including in supporting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Trump administration seems inclined to keep “JCPOA implementation, while increasing the pressure on other areas,” a European diplomat, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor April 19.

 

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