Donald Trump set to 'decertify' 2015 Iran nuclear deal

AFP  Brendan Smialowski

Officials familiar with the internal deliberations as well as informed sources outside the administration say they expect Mr Trump to tell lawmakers that the Iran deal is not in the United States national security interest despite Iran's technical compliance.

However, with the agreement in place and strongly supported by co-signers Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, many Republicans who still abhor the pact nevertheless do not want to blow it up for fear that doing so would erode US credibility.

Yet Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency reported Wednesday that the country's foreign minister said Tehran "will never" renegotiate the deal.

It gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program in a bid to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

Will the deal be broken if Trump decertifies it?

She said that USA would lose global trust "because a deal that America voted for just two years ago in the UN Security Council with a resolution unanimously adopted, a deal that America helped to shape enormously, enormously, would be rejected by the same country". Iran has said it may exit the deal if the USA withdraws. Trump has twice certified the deal since he took office in January.

If Trump does decertify the accord as expected, it would put him at odds with Defense Secretary James Mattis, who last week said Tehran was "fundamentally" in compliance with the agreement and that the US should stick with the pact.

However, the move is seen as a signal that Trump is willing to impose similar sanctions through his own executive action or pressure Congress into doing so through the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.

Iran has said it is open in principle to further discussions, particularly with Europe, but has said its missile programme is non-negotiable. He also wants to toughen language on ballistic missiles and inspections.

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"There is no technical nor political space to renegotiate this deal", Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told PBS Wednesday.

Even so, some experts told CNBC that decertification will undermine the global deal and encourage hardliners in Tehran to push for nuclear weapons.

Drafts of two proposals seen by The Associated Press, one from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker and one from committee member and harsh deal critic Senator Tom Cotton, would expand the United States certification criteria to include items that are also the province of the UN nuclear watchdog and require the USA intelligence community to determine if Iran is carrying out illicit activity in facilities to which the International Atomic Energy Agency does not have access. If those sanctions are put back into place, the JCPOA would be considered breached.

Officials familiar with the internal deliberations as well as informed sources outside the administration say they do not believe Trump will call for Congress to reinstate the sanctions.

Trump threatened during the presidential campaign to tear the pact up if he was elected.

Making this worse, IAEA Director Amano made a stunning revelation in a late September Reuters interview that the IAEA is unable to verify Iran is implementing the JCPOA because it does not have the means to ensure that Tehran has not engaged in activities that "could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device".

But it could be hard to get both Iran and its ally, Russia, back to the table for a new round of talks. Under U.S. law, the administration has to certify whether Iran is complying with the deal and if it is in the country's national security interest to remain in it, every 90 days.

What exactly that will look like is still being determined, but it could include greater congressional oversight.

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