President Donald Trump on Friday is expected to reveal his administration’s plan to end Iran’s “pursuit of death and destruction.”
Trump is scheduled to give a speech on the strategy at 12:45 p.m. EDT from the White House. It is likely he’ll announce whether he intends to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, the deadline for which is Sunday.
According to a strategy outlined in advance by the White House, the Trump administration seeks to deny all paths to nuclear weapons in Iran.
But it’s not just a potential nuclear arsenal that has U.S. officials concerned. The United States also wants an end to Iran’s “destabilizing influence” on the Middle East, its support of terror groups like Hezbollah and the Houthis, and to limit its ballistic missile program. Iran also is accused of supporting the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people, hostility against Israel, threatening freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, cyberattacks against the United States and other countries, and arbitrary detention of U.S. citizens.
Trump spoke about the Iranian threat and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with military leaders on Oct. 5, saying the United States must not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.
“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” he told reporters. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said the JCPOA was a bad deal and that he would tear it up upon becoming president.
The White House said that the administration’s new strategy includes denying funding to Iran’s military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — for its “malign activities.” The administration also will call on the international community to condemn the military’s “gross violations of human rights,” including the detention of foreign citizens.
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction,” a statement from Trump said.
Should Trump choose not to certify Iran’s nuclear compliance, it wouldn’t mean an immediate withdrawal from the JCPOA.
Under the Iranian Nuclear Agreement Review Act — a U.S. law — the president must certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. Congress passed INARA in 2015 to give it some measure of control over the United States’ involvement with the nuclear agreement.
Under INARA, the president not only certifies Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal, but that the lifting of sanctions is in the best security interests of the United States and is proportionate to the efforts Iran is making to eliminate its nuclear program.
If Trump does not certify Iran’s compliance, it is up to Congress to decide whether the United States reimposes sanctions on Iran or abides by the deal. Reimposing sanctions would amount to the United States pulling out of the JCPOA.