Late Monday, after almost a week of internal drama and disagreement, the Trump administration informed Congress that Iran is still meeting the terms of its nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. Trump, a strident critic of the deal, has to certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days, and with international monitors and the other signatories — China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, plus the European Union — saying Iran is living up to its side of the deal, Trump reluctantly agreed to certify Iran’s compliance in April and again this week.
The White House made it clear, once more, that Trump only signed off on clearing Iran for more sanctions relief with deep misgivings, The New York Times reports:
At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.
While Mr. Trump headed to Paris and then spent the weekend in New Jersey, his team developed a strategy that it hoped would satisfy him and planned to notify Congress and make the case publicly on Monday. But even as allies were quietly being informed, Mr. Trump balked when he heard the plan at his morning security briefing, the official said. [The New York Times]
“We judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent” of the pact, a senior administration official told The Washington Post. Iran is “unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA” (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the official said. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued on CNN Sunday night that it’s the U.S. that’s violating the agreement, by pressuring companies to not conduct business with Iran. “That is violation of not the spirit but of the letter of the JCPOA of the nuclear deal,” he said, noting that he has yet to talk with Tillerson. Some Trump advisers are openly arguing that it will be better for Trump to provoke Iran to withdraw from the deal rather than withdraw unilaterally.
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