However, it is believed that Trump is not poised to “rip up the deal” but instead, by decertifying it, the president and his advisors are attempting to strengthen it with the help of Congress, so that the deal advances U.S. national security interests.
The certification process takes place every 90 days, as laid out in the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015. Those opposed to the deal say the Iranians are hindering inspection of military sites, working on their ballistic missile program, and banking on the nuclear deal’s sunset clauses, under which Tehran can have an advanced nuclear program in roughly a decade. They say that decertification has the potential to change all of that.
Decertification will force all sides to consider what the deal is worth to them, and what further compromises they may be willing to make to satisfy the national interests of the United States.
The 60-day Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA) review period giv\es Congress the right to review the agreement, and proponents believe that during that time, Trump can regain U.S. leverage, and establish new red lines on Iranian behavior. They say he can do all of this without exiting the deal.
Iran’s leadership will likely threaten to walk away, in response to decertification. However, there are benefits the Iranians may be reluctant to give up, ranging from increased foreign investment to greater integration with the global economy after years of economic isolation.
The Europeans, Russians, and Chinese, are also resisting Trump’s certification gambit. Some are already voicing disapproval. Others show willingness to work with the White House. As the primary investors in Iran’s recent economic rebound, they have an interest in trying to resolve America’s concerns.
Iran’s bid for regional hegemony is as troubling as its nuclear ambitions. Together, these issues cannot be separated, despite the P5+1’s efforts to do so back in 2015. The administration is scheduled to complete and roll out its Iran Policy Review by October 31st. Reportedly, the United States will push back on Iran’s behavior.
The new policy may include designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, which is mandated by statute by October 31st, and level Treasury sanctions on Iranian financial targets. The Trump administration and Congress have signaled they will take aim at Hezbollah’s economic interests, while also weakening their positions across the Middle East.
There were many choices to counter Iranian aggression before the nuclear deal, and it’s time to restore those options. Decertification and a new Iran policy may be the place to begin.