23 / September / 2019

Trump Toughens Iran Strategy, Decertifies Tehran's Compliance With Accord

Saying Iran is not living up to the spirit of a two-year-old nuclear agreement it signed with Western powers, President Donald Trump Friday unveiled a tough new strategy toward Tehran, including additional sanctions aimed at blocking the regime’s path to develop nuclear weapons.

“Today, I am announcing our strategy along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon,” Trump said in a nationally televised address at the White House.

He stopped short of pulling the United States out of the 2015 deal involving Iran, the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany and the European Union. But he said he would no longer certify Iran’s compliance with its terms, effectively giving Congress 60 days to consider whether further action is necessary.

“We cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout.”

He said he had directed his administration to “work closely with Congress and our allies to address the deal's many serious flaws, so that the Iranian regime can never threaten the world with nuclear weapons.”

“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.”

The president also announced additional sanctions against Iranian individuals and leaders, including members of the brutal Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“The Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian supreme leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia,” Trump told the nation. “I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press briefing during the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks at a press briefing during the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York.
Briefing reporters on the new policy Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made clear that the new policy would not alter the U.S. commitment to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

It does, however, require Congress to reconsider the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), a U.S. law that requires the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the accord.

Tillerson said the administration is urging Congress to strengthen the INARA law to include “trigger points” that would automatically snap sanctions back into place should Iran violate the deal.

He said congressional action to set trigger points would send a strong message of U.S. resolve to ensure Tehran does not develop nuclear weapons.

“That’s what the president has asked us to do. Either put more teeth into this obligation Iran has undertaken for all the benefits and the sanctions relief they have received … or let’s just forget the whole thing and we'll walk away and we'll start all over,” he said.

WATCH: Highlights of Trump's Speech on Iran Nuclear Deal

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