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Thursday is a big day. Multiple sources confirm that President Trump will deliver a speech on Oct. 12 outlining his policy on Iran. As part of that speech, the President will announce that he will not certify the JCPOA (Iran nuke deal) but he will not pull out of the deal either, leaving the future of the deal in the hands of Congress.

Trump’s decision will be based on his opinion that the deal is not in the national security interests of the United States.

Certification of the deal is not required by the JCPOA but is part of the congressional oversight required by the Corker-Cardin bill.

The Corker-Cardin bill passed because President Obama maneuvered around the Constitutional requirement for Senate approval of treaties by calling the JCPOA an “agreement”, requires the President to at least every 90 days, determine he can certify that:

  • Iran is fully implementing the agreement,
  • Iran has not committed a material breach of the agreement,
  • Iran has not taken any action that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program, and
  • suspension of sanctions against Iran is appropriate and proportionate to measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and vital to U.S. national security interests.

The President’s refusal to certify the deal will open a 60-day window for Congress to re-impose sanctions on Iran. If the sanctions are re-imposed Iran will pull out and the deal will fall apart.

The beltway buzz is the Trump administration will use the two-month window and the leverage built by the lack of certification to try and negotiate a fix of the deal’s worst flaws. Indeed, there were unsubstantiated Reuters reports at the end of last week that Iran has signaled to France and Britain that it is willing to have talks about its ballistic missile program.

The biggest reason for the President’s decision not to certify may be the IAEA’s recent announcement that has been unable to verify “Section T” of the agreement, which outlines “Activities which could contribute to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device”

Per the deal those activities include:

  • Designing, developing, acquiring, or using computer models to simulate nuclear explosive devices.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using multi-point explosive detonation systems suitable for a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring. 82.4.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosive diagnostic systems (streak cameras, framing cameras and flash x-ray cameras) suitable for the development of a nuclear explosive device, unless approved by the Joint Commission for non-nuclear purposes and subject to monitoring.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.
  • Designing, developing, fabricating, acquiring, or using explosively driven neutron sources or specialized materials for explosively driven neutron sources.

And the reason that the items in “Section T” cannot be verified is something many of us already knew, but team Obama and Ben Rhodes lied about; the Iranians won’t let the IAEA into military sites where the above work would be happening.  Even before the deal was done, the AP reported a side deal allows Iran to do its own inspections in the Parchin military base.  Beyond Parchin Iran has said more than once the deal does not require them to allow inspectors into military facilities, making it functionally impossible to verify. The U.S. considers the deal unenforceable under that interpretation.

Beyond “Section T” and the military bases, there are other recent revelations which speak to the fact that the  JCPOA is not the U.S.’s national security interest – it enables Iran to do too much, and doesn’t stop it from doing enough. The examples below all occurred since the last time the JCPOA was certified in July:

  • Iran is exploiting sanctions relief to undermine American interests. Iran’s parliament voted unanimously to move $800 million into new military and terrorist spending, including on ballistic missiles, which they announced while chanting ‘Death to America’. The rogue regime also exploited sanctions relief on their airline industry by using it to move troops into Syria to support Assad.
  • Per Iran, the deal left open all of Iran’s pathways to a bomb, according to new statements by Iran. Iranian nuclear chief Salehi revealed the deal left Iran with the ability to ramp up enrichment to 20% in 5 days, a level within reach of weapons-grade material, because of concessions related to Iran’s underground nuclear enrichment bunker at Fordow. He also revealed it left Iran with the ability to quickly reactivate its weapons-sensitive plutonium reactor because the Iranians never poured cement into the reactor core.
  • The IAEA has been politically intimidated into not inspecting military sites. according to a new Reuters report. IAEA officials told Reuters they won’t ask for access to Iranian military sites because they know Iran will say no, which would confirm Trump’s criticism of the deal: “we just don’t want to give them an excuse.
  • Iran routinely violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the UN resolution about the deal, and said the agreement doesn’t prohibit those violations. The Iranians launched a ballistic missile even though the resolution says they’re “called upon” not to.  Iran got caught sending arms to Yemen, Syria, and Russia even though the resolution says all states “are to” prevent such transfers. They’ve also been moving personnel like IRGC chief Soleimani around the Middle East even though the resolution says all states “are to” enforce travel bans against designated persons like him.
  • Iran is circumventing the deal’s measures against acquiring nuclear-related materials outside the approved channels. They’ve been repeatedly caught trying to acquire sensitive materials outside the mandatory procurement channels.

The President has plenty of evidence to explain why the deal is not in the best interests of the country, and sources say that his entire senior national security team believes that this “middle-of-the-road” (decertifying but not pulling out) approach is the best option for America’s security, to have any chance to improve the horrid JCPOA that Barack Obama committed this country to, while at the same time allowing maintaining the support with our allies who backed the deal.

 

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