Iran: “Walking up to Violating the Letter” of the Nuclear Deal Says NSC Chairman McMaster

On July 14, 2015, nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by Iran with the US-led P5+1 powers. The P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, as well as Germany.

Trump has repeatedly call the JPCOA a “horrible agreement”. During his recent vacation at his golf club retreat in New Jersey, he insisted, “I don’t think Iran is in compliance.” The US President added, “I don’t think they’re living up to the spirit of the agreement.”

The nuclear agreement requires certification of Iran’s compliance by the administration to Congress every 90 days. The last certification was signed on July 17th. The next certification is due in mid-October.

Senior VP with the Centre for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, who served in national security positions for 25 years wrote an argument in July stating that that Iran was not complying.

He referred to a letter from Republican senators Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, David Perdue, and Marco Rubio that was sent to Secretary Tillerson which pointed out four ways that Iran is not in compliance. That letter said ex-ambassador to the UN John Bolton also argued against certification. Bolton noted that non-certification was not a determination that Iran is not in compliance, but only a statement that the president was not able to certify that it was. Bolton, also said, “the administration should stop reviewing and start deciding.”

Fleitz said, “I asked McMaster how the Trump administration could [certify compliance] in light of clear evidence that Iran is violating the JCPOA…I said that this is a very troubling decision that amounts to looking the other way on Iran’s violations.” He went on to say, “I added that this policy to stick with the JCPOA is little different than what Hillary Clinton would have done if she had won the 2016 election”. Fleitz said McMaster refused to answer his question, or to address the issue of Iranian violations at all until another questioner pushed him. McMaster then said that Iran was in default of the spirit of the agreement and that “we need to take a closer look at whether it is violating the letter of the deal.” Mc Master added that Iran was “walking up to violating the letter” of the agreement.

However, the letter from the Senators said Iran had walked well past violating the letter of the agreement. As the Senators noted in their letter, Iran continued to wage a campaign of regional aggression, sponsor international terrorism, develop ballistic missiles, and oppress the Iranian people. The Senators said that continuation of the current policy “would be tantamount to rewarding Iran’s belligerence”.

Fleitz concludes, “The Trump administration has not filled any government post that deals with determining Iranian compliance.” Experts say that, if Fleitz is right, this reflects very poorly on President Trump. On August 11th, an unnamed expert was quoted as saying: “It suggests negligence of the highest order. Before his election, Trump had described it as ‘the worst deal ever’ and accused Tehran of continuing to back extremist groups in the Middle East.”

On the day after its certification, July 18th, the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program. The new sanctions targeted 18 individuals and entities.

The State Department said then that it “remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity.”

Later in July, after the IRGC tested a satellite launch rocket, the US Treasury singled out six companies it said were involved in the missile program for sanctions. Those sanctions also targeted IRGC and Rouhani’s government over human rights violations and terrorism, which were not covered under the 2015 nuclear deal.

In response, Iran complained these sanctions were in violation of the accord.