Trump May Let Congress Decide on Future of Nuclear Deal

Critics and defenders of the nuclear deal with Iran are equally in the dark about President Donald Trump’s intentions ahead of the next congressionally mandated deadline to certify Tehran’s compliance on October 15. His decision is eagerly awaited because it could have a profound impact on the future of the nuclear deal, The New York Times reports.

If he decides that he will not certify Iran compliant with the deal, which he has hinted that he may do, the next step will be up to Congress. Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions that were in place before the nuclear deal was signed. They were sanctions that were truly crippling the country’s economy. Trump is being pulled in two different directions. There are those that firmly believe that the deal should stay in place because it is the only way of ensuring that the nuclear threat from Iran is kept under control.

However, there are also those who are urging Trump to get rid of the deal. A large group of national security experts, many who worked in the nuclear weapons, arms control, nonproliferation and intelligence fields, sent Trump an open letter to express their strong opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and to ask him to withdraw the United States from this dangerous agreement as soon as possible.

“As national security experts who understand the urgency of addressing the growing threat from Iran, we urge you to implement the Bolton plan, withdraw from the dangerous Iran nuclear deal and not certify Iranian compliance to Congress next month.  It is time to move beyond President Obama’s appeasement of Iran and to begin work on a comprehensive new approach that fully addresses the menace that the Iranian regime increasingly poses to American and international security,” the letter says.

Even before he became president, Trump said during the election campaign that the nuclear deal was the “worst deal ever” and promised to rip it up if he took office. Iran has already said that it will not renegotiate the nuclear deal, and the other signatories – Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia – have said the same.

Some predict that instead of making the decision about the nuclear deal by himself, Trump will pass the buck to the Congress. All he would have to do is tell the Congress next month that Iran is violating the spirit of the nuclear deal. If Trump leaves the decision to Congress, he is washing his hands of the situation. He may be giving himself the opportunity to be able to say that he would have acted differently but the decision was up to Congress.

Washington’s European allies are similarly uncertain about how Trump will proceed, even as they insist that their commitment to the 2015 deal remains firm. Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran may walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries if the U.S. withdraws from the agreement, Press TV reports.

“If Washington decides to pull out of the deal, Iran has the option of withdrawal and other options,” Zarif said Thursday amid repeated threats by Washington to quit the nuclear agreement.

In the meantime, officials who work on Iran issues expect they may have to cancel any social plans they have made for the evening of October 15.