— CNN (@CNN) October 13, 2017
For weeks, President Trump has teased his intent to decertify the Iran nuclear deal (more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or “JCPOA”) and pass the issue onto Congress, and on Friday, Trump’s plans became clearer with a teleprompted speech that was likely penned by Stephen Miller. The speech followed a morning announcement by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who stated that Trump had decided not to altogether withdraw from the deal — which limits Iran’s development of nuclear weapons — and this was an accurate report, but Trump added some drama.
Trump ultimately declared that the U.S. “cannot make this certification” (as the White House has done twice previously) because “Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal,” and he announced a new strategy that sets out four main goals from the U.S. Trump emphasized the fourth objective with a flourish:
1. Work with allies to counter Iran’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist activities;
2. Block the financing of terrorist proxies and missions in the region;
3. Address the Iran regime’s proliferation of missiles that hinder trade and navigation from other countries;
4. Deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.
In addition, Trump slammed JCPOA as “one of the worst and most one-sided” deals that the U.S. has ever joined, but he conceded that “what’s done is done” while expressing disapproval at how the U.S. spent upfront money on the deal.
As Tillerson has already detailed, Trump will now pass the deal to Congress for reevaluation. He didn’t place a time limit on the process, but this can end in a few ways: (1) Congress will take no action, and the U.S. stays in the deal; or (2) Congress will place additional sanctions against Iran, which could eventually sink the deal if Iran or another country decides to leave JCPOA.
Yet in his speech, Trump ruled out option #1 by vowing to take further action and end the deal if Congress doesn’t take satisfactory action. “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” he said.
Ahead of Trump’s speech and after Tillerson’s statements, The Independent reported that a commander within Iran’s Revolutionary Guard essentially threatened to “bury” Trump and America:
“We are not a war-mongering country. But any military action against Iran will be regretted … Trump’s threats against Iran will damage America … We have buried many … like Trump and know how to fight against America.”
Meanwhile, the European Union has declared their collective intent to remain in the deal. You can watch Trump’s full speech below.