Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Haaretz: Trump’s Decertification Will Not Kill Iran Nuke Deal!

10-10-2017 | 11:18
In Thursday, US President Donald Trump is expected to announce that he is “decertifying” the nuclear deal with Iran.
US President Donald Trump
In what is already a diplomatic process overloaded with obscure jargon – the agreement’s full title is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which can mean anything – decertification is a relatively obscure feature. It was a requirement originally imposed by the Republican Congress that every 90 days, the administration certify that the JCPOA is in the United States’ national interest and it is therefore still committed to it.
Since his inauguration, Trump had already certified the deal twice, but this time he is expected to act otherwise and announce that Iran had acted against the spirit of the deal and that the US no longer sees it in its interest to honor it.
The decertification will not kill the Iran deal. By US law the Iran deal is neither a formal treaty nor an executive agreement but a “non-binding political commitment.” It would take actual action to break the deal. The agreement will not be invalidated if the Trump administration said it is no longer in favor or committed to it.
Trump is not expected to announce concrete new steps against Iran on Thursday so for now, decertification is no more than an expression of intent. Furthermore, the US is just one of eight signatories of the deal – along with Russia, China, Britain, Germany, France, the European Union and of course Iran. The remaining seven signatories who are still in favor of the deal could continue without the US.
Essentially, the Iran deal was an agreement through which the international community dropped the sanctions on Iran that were specifically related to its nuclear development in return for Iran’s agreement to impose certain limits on its nuclear research and development, most crucially the level to which it enriches uranium. If the US decided to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, it would be in breach of the JCPOA. That wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of the deal.
Iran and the other signatories could decide to continue with the agreement, though Iran may demand to be compensated for the financial damage incurred by the US sanctions. Trump signed the waiver on the Iranian sanctions last month. These waivers have to be extended every 120 days, so thus far, his administration is not taking action to kill the deal.
Decertification, however, is a signal to Congress that it can now go ahead and impose the sanctions itself. Given the fractious relations between the White House and most Democrats and Republicans, along with the lack of any clear bipartisan consensus, it is still unclear whether this will happen before January, when Trump will have to sign the waivers once again – or else the sanctions will be reapplied automatically.
Trump had called the Iran deal a lot of nasty things – “a very very bad deal” is probably the mildest of these. However, since becoming president he had certified the deal twice and signed the waivers on re-imposing sanctions twice. Trying to understand the labyrinthine machinations and motives behind any of Trump’s actions is a lost cause, but the standard explanation for his intention to decertify the deal is that he remains implacably hostile to it, but is facing a near-consensus among his diplomatic and military advisors against killing it outright. Decertification is the middle way. It also allows him to blame Congress of being soft on Iran further down the road, if it chooses not to impose major sanctions.
Since the deal is still very much in Iran’s benefit and the diplomatic community adheres to it as an article of belief, the decertification almost certainly won’t kill the deal. It will, however, put its long-term future in doubt and may create additional pressure on Iran to both stick to the limitations of its nuclear program and perhaps even force it to curb its more overt actions in the region.
“Israeli” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave yet another grandiloquent speech at the UN General Assembly last month, laden with quips and sound-bites against the Iran Deal – “fix it, or nix it.” However, in recent days, as the Trump announcement has drawn close, rhetoric from the “Israeli” entity has been largely muted.
There are three possible reasons for this. First, Netanyahu knows that whatever Trump touches usually turns to manure. He hates the Iran deal but doesn’t want to be burned if it goes up in flames. Second, the entity’s more immediate concern right now is Iran’s entrenchment across the border in Syria. For once, the nuclear issue can’t take precedence. Third, just like his own security chiefs, who are not exactly enamored with the deal, Netanyahu begrudgingly realizes that a decade’s respite from the Iranian bomb is not such a bad deal after all.
Source: Haaretz, Edited by website team
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