On Friday, state media quoted a top Iranian military official as saying Tehran won’t be pressured by U.S. threats to pull out of the nuclear deal and would be better off without it anyway.
October 15th is the deadline for Trump to notify Congress of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is the 2015 international agreement that includes the U.S. and five other world powers: Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.
“My assumption and guess is that he will not certify and then will allow Congress to take the decision,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, and added, “If Europe and Japan and Russia and China decided to go along with the U.S., then I think that will be the end of the deal. Europe should lead.”
When he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly on September 20th, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took a more hardline stance. He said that Iran “will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.”
Although Trump has certified Iran’s compliance twice, experts say he may reject it this time. Legally, the administration is required to notify Congress of Iran’s compliance every 90 days.
Trump has been critical of Iran’s ballistic missile program and is concerned that Tehran is working with nuclear-armed North Korea.
According to state-run Fars news agency, Hossein Salam, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s deputy chief commander declared this week, “If you intend to abort the deal, you’d better know that we pray God for this, because we would make better progress without the JCPOA.” The Iranian commander added, “The nuclear deal might be your only option, but it is no option for us at all.”
Some have urged the Trump administration to redo certain aspects of the nuclear deal, such as inspection issues or so-called “sunset” clauses, including Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington public policy think tank, who said, “What’s been in short supply is, renegotiate or not, how are the United States and the outside world are going to deal with Iran once the sunset clauses come into impact. It’s happening faster than people realize.”
The “sunset provisions” of Iran’s nuclear program restrictions start to expire in 2025, and some have suggested that lengthening the deal should be part of any renegotiation.
However, Tehran opposes a renegotiation.