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US: Trump plans to ‘decertify’ Iran nuclear deal next week

US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of not living up to the 'spirit of the agreement' of its nuclear deal, amid reports that he plans to withhold endorsement of the landmark agreement

6 October 2017, 8:17am
President Donald Trump sits with John Kelly, White House chief of staff, right, and Jim Mattis, US secretary of defense, during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington (Photograph: the Guardian)
President Donald Trump sits with John Kelly, White House chief of staff, right, and Jim Mattis, US secretary of defense, during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington (Photograph: the Guardian)
During a meeting with military leaders, Trump cryptically warned that those present were witnessing the “calm before the storm”. The president was later asked what he meant by that, by reporters, and he said: “you’ll find out”.

On Friday, media outlets confirmed what was suspected: Trump will not certify the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, on the grounds that it does not serve US security interests.

This move would trigger a period of 60 days, during which it would be up to Congress whether or not to re-impose sanctions. This decision could then trigger a collapse of the deal and a return to a tense stand-off  in the Middle East, over the Iranian nuclear programme.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump said at a White House meeting of US military leaders.

“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he added. “You will be hearing about Iran very shortly.”

Trump made the statement a he sat alongside senior security officials, the most senior of whom have repeatedly said that Iran is indeed abiding by the 2015 nuclear agreement.

James Mattis, defence secretary, said that staying with the deal, under which Iran accepted strict curbs on its nuclear programme, in exchange for sanctions relief, was in US national security interests.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joints chiefs of staff, said that pulling out of the deal, which was signed by some of Washington’s closest allies, would affect US credibility and could hinder the ability of the US to strike security agreements from now on.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and national security advisor, HR McMaster, are both thought to have also advised Trump not to withhold certification. The European signatories to the deal – the UK, France and Germany – have all urged Trump to uphold it, and are now focusing their energies on lobbying Congress not to re-impose sanctions, which could prove fatal to the agreement.

The non-certification of the Iran deal threatens to trigger a second nuclear standoff at a time when the US is already immersed in one with North Korea.

That crisis has escalated recently with Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, a series of intermediate and intercontinental missile tests, and a rancorous war of words between the US president and the North’s dictator, Kim Jong-un.