US President Donald Trump is likely to take a major step against the international nuclear deal with Iran, laying out a more aggressive approach to Iranian activities in the Middle East that risks upsetting US relations with its European allies.
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction,” Trump said in a White House statement that flagged key elements of the strategy.
He is to present his plan in a 12.45pm local time (0345 AEDT Saturday) speech at the White House, the product of weeks of internal discussions between him and his national security team.
US officials said Trump was expected to announce that he will not certify the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers, one he has called the “worst deal ever” as it was not, in his view, in the US national interest.
Trump found himself under immense pressure as he considered de-certifying the deal, a move that would ignore warnings from inside and outside his administration that to do so would risk undermining US credibility abroad.
He had formally reaffirmed it twice before but aides said he was reluctant to do so a third time.
De-certification would not pull the US out of the deal but would give congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the pact, negotiated during the administration of President Barack Obama.
Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House of Representatives homeland security committee, said he thinks Trump “is likely to not completely pull out of the deal, but de-certify compliance.”
If Washington quits the deal, that will be the end of it and global chaos could ensue, Iran’s influential parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS as saying during a visit to St Petersburg on Friday.
UN nuclear inspectors say Iran is in compliance with the accord, which limited the scope of Iran’s nuclear program to help ensure it could not be put to developing bombs in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.
Trump says Tehran is in violation of the spirit of the agreement and has done nothing to rein in its ballistic missile program or its financial and military support for the Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah and other militant groups.
European allies warn of a split with the US over the nuclear agreement.
A variety of European allies, including the leaders of Britain and France, have personally appealed to Trump to re-certify the nuclear accord for the sake of allied unity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on Friday that if the US ditched the nuclear pact, “this will damage the atmosphere of predictability, security, stability and non-proliferation in the entire world”.
McCaul said he expected Trump also to announce some kind of action against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the country’s most powerful security entity. Trump is under a legal mandate to impose US economic sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards as a whole by October 31 or waive them.
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