Decertifying the Iran deal wouldn’t have to kill it

The Wall Street Journal | Dennis Ross: President Trump has never made a secret of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, which he called “an embarrassment” in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month. Yet so far the Trump administration has certified the deal twice. “If it was up to me,” Mr. Trump said in July, “I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.” It is, of course, up to him—and given his recent comments, one expects he will refuse to certify by the next deadline, Oct. 15.

That wouldn’t necessarily spell the end of the deal. Certification is not part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement between Iran and the “5+1” nations (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany). Instead, certification is a requirement of a U.S. law, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. Every 90 days, the president must certify that Iran is neither in material breach of the JCPOA nor engaged in activities that could advance its nuclear-weapons program.

On the other hand, refusing to certify would create pressure in Congress to reimpose the sanctions on Iran that were waived as part of the deal. If lawmakers did so, the U.S. would no longer be fulfilling its side of the JCPOA.

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