Time for Changes: Will New U.S Policy Finally Challenge Iran?

Donald Trump has certified Iran as compliant with the 2015 nuclear agreement twice since taking office, despite clear evidence to the contrary and a well-documented disdain for the deal. However, this may all be about to change when the new U.S. policy on Iran is announced-a policy expected to be much tougher on the Iranian Regime, their ballistic and nuclear weapons programmes, and their many other transgressions,  Iran Focus reports.

After using the most high-profile foreign policy speech of his presidency to call the Iran nuclear deal “an embarrassment to the United States,” President Trump could find recertifying the agreement next month even more politically difficult than the deal’s opponents had already promised to make it.

“I don’t think we know what the president’s decision on the deal is going to be yet,” John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the Washington Examiner. “But these were very strong comments. And when you say, among other things, that the deal is an embarrassment to the U.S., it’s hard to see how you certify or stay in.”

Many speculate that this policy change will be announced at the end of September, just in time for the quarterly review of the nuclear deal. By October, the Trump administration is expected to announce its new stance – a less forgiving policy that allows for proportional responses to provocative gestures, like the Revolutionary Guard’s ballistic missile tests.

If so, the policy announcement will come shortly after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speech before the UN General Assembly.

Majid Sadeghpour, the political director of the Organization of Iranian American communities (OIAC), wrote an op-ed for Townhall, in which he addressed that Rouhani was not a “moderate” and that, even if he was, the Iranian Regime is incapable of change because all the power is in the hands of one man.

He wrote: “Even decisions within his immediate purview, like cabinet appointments, Rouhani cannot make independently, without first consulting with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”

While Rouhani is speaking before the UNGA on September 20, a protest will be happening outside, led by activists who oppose the legitimisation of a Regime that still executes children, imprisons supporters of other political parties, and beats protesters in the streets. Sadeghpour wrote:

“If the White House is listening, the international reach of these protests should be loud and clear. Activists urge the U.S. to follow suit and help shape international understanding of Iran’s abysmal human rights record – a strategy absent during the Obama administration, yes, but that does not dismiss the fact that Trump’s foreign policy approach to Iran is equally ambiguous and absent, thus far. The world anxiously yet patiently waits for the Administration to make their move. Until then, we continue to hope.”

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday, U.S. President Trump went after the government of Iran for sponsoring terrorism and developing its ballistic missile program in violation of UN resolutions barring such behavior.

“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people. Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors ” Trump said in his speech.

The Trump administration has given little indication of how it plans to handle the upcoming recertification deadline. Although Trump vowed to tear up the agreement on the campaign trail, his State Department has already recertified the JCPOA twice under the guidelines of legislation that requires the administration to affirm Iran’s compliance to Congress every 90 days.

Sebastian Gorka, former adviser to Trump and staunch opponent of the Iran deal, said he interpreted Trump’s speech as a signal that he will likely decertify the JCPOA next month.

“The president’s comments are the clearest indication that he has maintained the view he had when we last debated the JCPOA in the Oval with Secretary Tlllerson and Gen. McMaster .The president didn’t want to recertify then, and today’s speech is a clear indication he’s had enough,” Gorka told the Washington Examiner.

He said Trump’s speech represented a “death-knell” for the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s options for dealing with the JCPOA extend beyond simply leaving or staying, however. Because the agreement fails to police much of Iran’s military, political and financial activity, Trump and other world leaders could impose new restrictions on Tehran that leave the terms of the nuclear deal untouched.

The topic could surface in dicussions about the JCPOA on Wednesday during a ministerial meeting in New York with the six signatories of the deal.