Trump May Be Laying The Groundwork To De-Certify Iran Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during ceremonies in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the 16th anniversary of the attack at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts – UP1ED9B13ALNJ

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, Sept. 12, 2017:

The Trump administration appears to be gearing up for a more aggressive stance towards the Islamic Republic of Iran, which may begin with U.S. de-certification of the regime’s compliance with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a proposal developed by his senior national advisors to confront Iranian-backed militias in war-zones like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. The proposal would have the U.S. intercept Iranian arms shipments to malign terror groups and allow U.S. ships to act more “forcefully” when harassed by the Islamic Republic in the Persian gulf.

The proposal was characterized as a “broad strategy” and echoes concerns Trump has floated in the past in connection with the nuclear deal. The president himself said in July he “would be surprised” if he certified Iran’s compliance to Congress in the coming months saying “I think they’re taking advantage of this country.”

The proposal’s leak to Reuters also comes just days after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley laid out a comprehensive way forward on Sept. 5 for the administration if it decides to de-certify the regime’s compliance.

Haley forcefully declared:

We must consider the regime’s repeated, demonstrated hostility toward the United States. We must consider its history of deception about its nuclear program. We must consider its ongoing development of ballistic missile technology. And we must consider the day when the terms of the JCPOA sunset. That’s a day when Iran’s military may very well already have the missile technology to send a nuclear warhead to the United States – a technology that North Korea only recently developed.

The administration has long held the view that Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal must be viewed in a broader lens that accounts for its malign activity in the Middle East and aggressive ballistic missile program. The administration’s stance echoes experts’ concerns that claims of Iranian compliance with the agreement are narrowly focused.

“While Iran might be complying with the letter of the JCPOA [Iran deal] it’s been routinely violating its spirit, and that’s very problematic,” United Against A Nuclear Iran Policy Director Jason Brodsky previously explained to The Daily Caller News Foundation. Brodsky claimed that while Iran’s violations of the U.N. resolution codifying the nuclear deal may not show explicit Iranian procurement or development of nuclear material, it demonstrates a regime that continues to pursue programs that pose a threat to the U.S.

If Trump decides not to certify Iran’s compliance, “it would signal one or more of the following three messages to Congress,” Haley said. “Either the Administration believes Iran is in violation of the deal; or the lifting of sanctions against Iran is not appropriate and proportional to the regime’s behavior; or the lifting of sanctions is not in the U.S. national security interest.”

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Haley: Iran Has Uninspected & Undeclared Nuclear Sites

Iran: Inspection of mass production of ballistic missiles (Photo: VAHID REZA ALAEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Sept. 10, 2017:

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed in August that Iran has “numerous undeclared [nuclear] sites that have not been inspected,” the first time the U.S. government has officially accused Iran of actively hiding parts of its nuclear program since the deal was enacted.

That is a big accusation, but it received very little attention. Peculiarly, the claim did not appear in her later remarks on September 5 to the American Enterprise Institute.

Iranian Opposition Group Reports Secret Nuke Work

The National Council of Resistance in Iran, a group that wants to replace the current regime with a secular democracy, publicly released detailed information about Iran’s alleged covert nuclear activities in April.

NCRI says that the newly-identified site is inside the Parchin military base, the place that Iran has been most resistant to granting outside access. It is known that Iran worked on the high explosives necessary for a nuclear weapon’s “trigger” at Parchin.

NCRI says that the effort was simply moved from one location within Parchin to another because the regime believes there is an “extremely low” chance of the IAEA inspectors entering the area.

The opposition group obviously has a political agenda, but it has a strong track record and it would want to avoid a self-inflicted wound by being caught in a lie.

A nuclear expert with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Frank Pabian, said in 2010 that NCRI is “right about 90 percent of the time.” In 2002, NCRI accurately revealed two secret nuclear sites; the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and the heavy water facility at Arak.

The NCRI’s claim about activity in Parchin is substantiated by satellite imagery that discovered suspicious activity at Parchin in July 2015. Scientists assessed that “these activities could be related to refurbishment or clean-up prior to any IAEA inspection or the taking of environmental samples.”

Earlier in February 2015, NCRI identified an alleged secret uranium enrichment site that has been operating since 2008. The revelation happened as the U.S. and Iran came close to agreeing to the nuclear deal.

Iran Refuses Access to Military Sites

The U.S. government is publicly stating that the inspectors should have broad access to Iranian military sites suspected of housing nuclear activity. The inspectors have not visited a single one since the JCPOA went into effect.

However, the IAEA may only request access if it believes it has adequate evidence of nuclear work at a specific site. Under the deal, which has the official name of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the IAEA does not have the authority to inspect sites on a whim. And if it does request a visit, Iran can delay for up to 24 days or even longer without facing consequences.

As of now, the U.S. is not reported to have provided such intelligence to the IAEA or to have requested a specific inspection.

A quote from an anonymous IAEA official indicates that agency personnel want to prevent the Trump Administration from finding a pretext for abandoning the deal. An unidentified official said, “If they want to bring down the deal, they will. We just don’t want to give them an excuse to.”

By raising the issue of access to military sites, the U.S. has pushed Iran to unequivocally state that it will deny access to military sites altogether.

The Institute for Science and International Security’s analysis of the latest IAEA report is highly critical of the agency’s last report for omitting crucial details. The institute is considered one of the most reputable organizations on nuclear issues in the world.

It says that access to military sites is essential for verification, and that “it is likely that some of the conditions in Section T [of the JCPOA] are not currently being met and may in fact be violated by Iran.” Section T addresses dual-use equipment that can be used for pursuing nuclear weapons.

Iran’s refusal to grant access to any military sites means that Iran is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, an act that does not violate the JCPOA per se but does make Iran fall short of the standards set by Congress for continuing the deal.

The significance of Iran’s refusal to grant access to military sites can only be understood when the complicated arrangement is grasped.

Two Agreements: The JCPOA & Corker-Cardin

The continuation of the nuclear deal (the JCPOA) requires Iranian compliance with two sets of the standards:

The first is obviously the JCPOA itself.

The second is the Nuclear Agreement Review Act, also known as the Corker-Cardin bill which was passed under the Obama Administration so that Congress would could approve or reject U.S. participation in the deal. Iran must meet standards beyond the deal for congressional approval to continue.

The Corker-Cardin bill requires the administration to certify that Iran is meeting the following four benchmarks:

  • Iran is fully implementing the agreement,
  • Iran has not committed a material breach of the agreement,
  • Iran has not taken any action that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program, and
  • Suspension of sanctions against Iran is appropriate and proportionate to measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program and vital to U.S. national security interests.

Importantly, the Corker-Cardin bill also requires Iranian compliance with agreements “related” to the nuclear deal. That would include the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol, which is referenced seven times in the JCPOA’s section on nuclear-related measures. Iran’s blanket refusal to grant access to military sites is a statement that it will not comply with the Additional Protocol.

“With Iran rejecting IAEA access to military sites, President Trump would now be lying to Congress and the American people if he recertifies Iranian compliance in October,” said Omri Ceren, the Israel Project’s senior adviser monitoring the deal, to the Clarion Project.

U.N. Ambassador Haley also said the U.S. has “devastating evidence of Iranian violations” of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which arguably qualifies as a JCPOA-related agreement. It prohibits ballistic missile testing and arming of terrorists that Iran is clearly engaged in.

Let’s review again where we are at for those who understandably find this confusing.

  • If the U.S. has sufficient evidence that Iran is conducting nuclear work at undisclosed sites, then Iran is in violation of the JCPOA itself.
  • The U.S. must then present this evidence to the IAEA, which—if convinced—will request an inspection that, according to Iran’s public statements, the regime will reject.
  • If access is denied past 24 days, the U.N. might declare Iran in violation of the JCPOA and then might reimpose sanctions, effectively ending the deal.
  • What is more likely to happen is that the Trump Administration will declare that Iran is not meeting the standards of the Corker-Cardin arrangement—the standards that must be met for Congress to authorize continued U.S. participation in the deal.

The Trump Administration has twice certified that Iran is meeting these standards, as is required every 90 days. Haley’s comments indicate that certification is unlikely in October.

The Trump Administration can declare Iran in violation of “related agreements” and/or state that the suspension of sanctions on Iran is no longer believed to be in America’s national security interests (the fourth benchmark).

So, does that mean the nuclear deal with Iran is probably over in October? Not necessarily.

The Next Step

As Haley explains, if President Trump does not certify that these benchmarks are being met, then Congress has a 60-day period to decide whether to re-impose sanctions that were lifted under the deal.

“Congress could debate whether the nuclear deal is in fact too big to fail. We should welcome a debate over whether the JCPOA is in the U.S. national security interest,” Haley said.

On the surface, it seems that killing the deal would be a no-brainer.

Haley pointed out that, because of the sanctions imposed on Iran prior to the deal, the Iranian GDP fell by over 4 percent. Two years after the deal, it grew by almost 5 percent. The deal is likely saving the Iranian regime and its ideology of Shiite Islamic Revolution as Western businesses flock to set up contracts.

Over the long-term, the agreement disarms the West more than it disarms the Iranian regime, resulting in an Iran on steroids. Its nuclear infrastructure remains, enabling the regime to quickly produce an arsenal of nuclear bombs.

In fact, last February, four top experts declared Iran a “nuclear missile state.”

The Iranian regime can match its words of “Death to America” with action by launching an apocalyptic Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) strike, an option advocated in its military manuals and one that its military has been rehearsing since at least 2008.

But, as Haley understands:

“The truth is, the Iran deal has so many flaws that it’s tempting to leave it. But the deal was constructed in a way that makes leaving it less attractive. It gave Iran what it wanted up-front, in exchange for temporary promises to deliver what we want. That’s not good.”

The deal has left us in a difficult position.

Even if the deal is scrapped, Iran has already greatly benefited from the influx of income. The lucrative international business contracts made in the wake of the agreement make it questionable whether the international community will partake in future sanctions, especially if the U.S. is seen as the party responsible for the deal’s collapse.

Iran may move quickly ahead in developing a nuclear arsenal while the U.S. is still heavily engaged in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Proponents of the deal will point out that at least it restricts what Iran does with its declared facilities. Yet, provoking Western action as a pretext for overtly making nukes may have been a part of Iran’s script all along.

If the deal isn’t scrapped, then the Iranian regime gets stronger by the day.

The regime is already increasing spending on ballistic missiles, the Revolutionary Guards Corps and its Qods Force responsible for supporting terrorists and extremist militias, drone development and expandingits military footprint in the region. Meetings with North Korean officials appear to be on the uptick, as are links with terrorist groups like the Taliban, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In addition , the regime continues to maintain its relationship with Al-Qaeda.

Whether President Trump certifies Iranian compliance or not—and whether Congress scraps the deal or not—we are headed for an increasingly bumpy road ahead.

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal

National Review, by John Bolton, Aug. 28, 2017:

Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite “a sharp series of exchanges” between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it.

Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama’s failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn’t have — which I did.

Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

I offer the Iran nonpaper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible. Although he was once kind enough to tell me “come in and see me any time,” those days are now over.

If the president is never to see this option, so be it. But let it never be said that the option didn’t exist.

Read more

— John R. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Why Trump Must Not Re-Certify The Obamabomb Deal

Center for Security Policy, by Clare Lopez, Aug. 23, 2017:

(Washington, D.C.): The Center for Security Policy today published an extraordinarily topical and timely Occasional Paper concerning one of the nation’s most pressing national security questions: Can the United States in good faith certify that Iran is complying with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) when the next deadline is reached in October 2017 and, if so, should it?

This analysis, entitled “Why President Trump Must Not Re-certify Iranian JCPOA Compliance,” was written by the Center’s Vice President for Research and Analysis, Clare Lopez. It lays out the factual basis for concluding that Mr. Trump neither can nor should provide such a certification since Tehran is explicitly and demonstrably in material breach of the JCPOA on multiple specific counts.

This conclusion is particularly compelling given the unrelentingly jihadist nature of the Iranian regime, which codified in its 1989 constitution the Islamic Republic’s explicit dedication to global Islamic conquest. In addition, the mullah-led government in Tehran’s faithfully follows that totalitarian doctrine’s dictates to deceive non-Muslims – a reality evident in Iran’s long record of violations of the provisions of other international accords and treaties to which it is a signatory. Notably, Iran was caught in 2002 for having violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty when its clandestine nuclear weapons program was revealed to the world for the first time.

Since then, many more revelations about the Iranian nuclear weapons program have come to light. For example, the International Atomic Energy Agency itself has documented a long list of Possible Military Dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program that seems to confirm the validity of its assessment that Iran had an advanced nuclear weapons program – and possibly even nuclear warheads – by November 2011. Additionally, what amounts to a joint venture between Iran and North Korea with respect to nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development prompts grave concerns with regard to the sharing expertise on warhead miniaturization and Electromagnetic Pulse technology.

In releasing Ms. Lopez’s paper, Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney observed:

Clare Lopez is a veteran of the CIA’s clandestine service with deep knowledge of the lengths to which the Iranian regime has gone to pursue its nuclear ambitions – and mislead the United States and others about the actual status of its weapons, missile and centrifuge development programs. Her insights into this behavior make clear that those programs are not just deeply problematic from a national security perspective. They amount to showstoppers with regard to any further presidential certifications, especially with respect to the JCPOA being consistent with the national security interests of the United States.

Click here to view the paper in PDF format

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

Iranian military ship and light replenishment ship are seen docked for refueling / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon,  by Adam Kredo,  Aug. 14, 2017:

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Iran Developing Advanced Nuclear Capabilities, Reducing Time to Weapon

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, June 5, 2017:

Iran is believed to be developing advanced nuclear-related capabilities that could significantly reduce the time it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon, according to statements by Iranian officials that have fueled speculation among White House officials and nuclear experts that the landmark accord has heightened rather than reduced the Islamic Regime’s nuclear threat.

The head of Iran’s nuclear program recently announced the Islamic Republic could mass produce advanced nuclear centrifuges capable of more quickly enriching uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon. Work of this nature appears to violate key clauses of the nuclear agreement that prohibits Iran from engaging in such activity for the next decade or so.

The mass production of this equipment “would greatly expand Iran’s ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability,” according to nuclear verification experts who disclosed in a recent report that restrictions imposed by the Iran deal are failing to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear pursuits.

The latest report has reignited calls for the Trump administration to increase its enforcement of the nuclear deal and pressure international nuclear inspectors to demand greater access to Iran’s nuclear sites.

It remains unclear if nuclear inspectors affiliated with the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, have investigated Iran’s pursuit of advanced centrifuges, according to the report, which explains that greater access to Iran’s sites is needed to verify its compliance with the deal.

The report comes amid renewed concerns about Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement and its increased efforts to construct ballistic missiles, which violate international accords barring such behavior.

“Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges,” according to a report by the Institute for Science and International Security. “The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured.”

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, bragged in April that Tehran is prepared to mass-produce advanced centrifuges on “short notice.” Work of this nature would greatly increase the amount of nuclear fissile material produced by Iran, prompting concerns the country could assemble a functional nuclear weapon without being detected.

The issue is complicated by the lack of access international nuclear inspectors have to Iran’s contested military sites, according to the report.

Salehi’s declaration highlights the “profound weaknesses in the JCPOA which include lack of inspector access, highly incomplete knowledge of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities and output, and too few centrifuge components being accounted for and monitored,” according to the report.

Iran already has manufactured more centrifuge parts than needed for the amount of nuclear work permitted under the agreement.

The terms of the agreement permit Iran to operate one advanced IR-8 centrifuge. However, Iran is known to have assembled more than half a dozen such centrifuges.

Iran also is working to construct IR-6 centrifuges, which also point to an increased focus on the production of enriched nuclear materials.

“These numbers are excessive and inconsistent with the JCPOA,” according to the report. “Moreover, in light of Salehi’s comments, the excessive production of [centrifuge] rotors may be part of a plan to lay the basis for mass production.”

Iran’s work on “any such plan is not included in Iran’s enrichment plan under the JCPOA,” according to the report.

Inspectors affiliated with the IAEA should immediately investigate the total number of centrifuge parts in Iran’s possession and determine exactly how many of these parts are currently being manufactured, the report states. The IAEA also should attempt to keep tabs on any clandestine nuclear work Iran may be engaging in.

Iran may be misleading the world about its centrifuge production and it still has not declared all materials related to this work, as is obligated under the nuclear deal.

“A key question is whether Iran is secretly making centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows at unknown locations, in violation of the JCPOA, and if it takes place, what the probability is that it goes without detection,” the report concludes.

Additionally, “the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) need to determine the status of Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing capabilities, including the number of key centrifuge parts Iran has made and the amount of centrifuge equipment it has procured,” the report states.

“They need to ensure that Iran’s centrifuge manufacturing is consistent with the intent of the nuclear deal as well as the deal’s specific limitations on advanced centrifuges,” according to the report. “Moreover, the Iranian statement illuminates significant weaknesses in the Iran deal that need to be fixed.”

When asked to address the issue, a State Department official told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s centrifuge work remains very “limited” under the nuclear agreement.

“Under the JCPOA, consistent with Iran’s enrichment and enrichment and [research and development] plan, Iran can only engage in production of centrifuges, including centrifuge rotors and associated components, to meet the enrichment and R&D requirements of the JCPOA,” the official said. “In other words, Iran’s production of centrifuges and associated components are limited to be consistent with the small scale of R&D that is permissible under the JCPOA.”

If Iran is in violation of the deal, the United States will take concrete action to address this once the Trump administration finishes its interagency review of the Iran deal.

“The Trump administration has made clear that at least until this review is completed, we will adhere to the JCPOA and will ensure that Iran is held strictly accountable to its requirements,” the official said.

U.S. Considers Re-Imposing All Sanctions on Iran, Dismantling Nuke Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during a parade on the country’s Army Day / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, April 19, 2017:

The Trump administration is considering re-imposing a massive set of economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama administration as part of the landmark nuclear agreement that gave Tehran billions in economic support, according to U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon that Iran’s military buildup and disregard for international law could prompt U.S. reprisal.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Congress in a letter sent Tuesday that Iran is complying with requirements for its nuclear program imposed under the nuclear accord. However, Tillerson emphasized that Iran continues to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Tehran’s malign activities across the Middle East and elsewhere have prompted the Trump administration to place all aspects of the nuclear agreement under critical review, which is viewed by some as a first step to nixing some controversial aspects of the accord, including the massive sanctions relief package.

U.S. officials familiar with the review told the Free Beacon that Iran’s continued support for terrorism has become a sticking point for the Trump administration as it reviews the agreement and the previous administration’s policy toward Iran.

“I think the key is what comes next,” one senior White House official familiar with the interagency review told the Free Beacon. “The question of ongoing sanctions relief will be critical—Iran has already gotten significant economic benefits from the nuclear deal and we need to take a hard look at what Iran is doing with the resources that continue to flow in.”

The Trump administration has been paying close attention to Iran’s ongoing military buildup, including its continued work on ballistic missiles and other offensive weapons aimed at interfering with U.S. operations in the Persian Gulf region.

“Yesterday was the annual Army Day celebration—also known as Death to Israel day—and they paraded some pretty serious new hardware through the streets,” the White House official disclosed. “That has to be a significant concern.”

The White House’s national security apparatus will closely monitor Iran’s behavior as it makes a decision about re-imposing sanctions lifted by the Obama administration.

Tillerson’s emphasis on Iran’s terror operation is “a first step, but we have to remain focused on the threat Tehran poses to America and our allies,” the official said.

Obama administration officials, while selling the nuclear deal to Congress, vowed that Iran would roll back its nefarious activities if it received relief from sanctions.

Tillerson informed Congress this has not happened. After receiving billions in cash assets and other economic relief, Iran invested heavily in its military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which continues to meddle in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and a host of other countries.

“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” Tillerson told Congress. “President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”

“When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue,” Tillerson wrote.

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