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Trump Grudgingly Recertifies the Nuclear Deal

Trump agreed [1] to re-certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, but he did so very grudgingly:

President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a planned announcement as a legal deadline loomed.

The danger here is that Trump’s instincts are to trash the deal and to deny that Iran is in compliance despite the fact that Tehran has been complying with the agreement from the start. Eventually, those instincts are likely to prevail over other concerns. That is not surprising given his repeated attacks on the JCPOA as the “worst” deal ever made. It is still alarming that the U.S. might renege on its obligations and potentially blow up the deal for no reason. The article continues:

The decision on Monday was the second time his administration certified Iran’s compliance, and aides said a frustrated Mr. Trump had told his security team that he would not keep doing so indefinitely [bold mine-DL].


The danger isn’t limited to Trump’s bad judgment. There are many dead-ender Iran hawks that never wanted the nuclear deal and are still desperate to sabotage it [2]. Because the administration will have to certify that the deal is in the national security interests of the U.S. every 90 days, those saboteurs will have numerous opportunities to lobby Trump to change his mind. The Iran deal is succeeding [3], but hard-liners here are so determined to wreck it that they don’t care. Hostility to Iran is one of the few reliable constants in Trump’s foreign policy, and the administration is making clear that Trump wants to increase tensions with Iran on every other front:

Administration officials announced the certification on Monday evening while emphasizing that they intended to toughen enforcement of the deal, apply new sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism and other destabilizing activities, and negotiate with European partners to craft a broader strategy to increase pressure on Tehran. Aides said Mr. Trump had insisted on such actions before agreeing to the consensus recommendation of his national security team.

That means that most of the other possible benefits that the deal could have produced in the form of reduced regional tensions and diplomatic channels with Tehran will be thrown away for the sake of fruitless antagonism and confrontation. This is by far the most dangerous aspect of Trump’s foreign policy to date, but it is unfortunately the one where he will encounter the least resistance in Washington.

The report makes clear that the entire deal would be cast aside if Trump had his way. His advisers spent the last meeting trying to get Trump to agree, and he refused for almost all of it until the very end:

At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.

It could just be a matter of time before Trump scraps the deal.

10 Comments (Open | Close)

10 Comments To "Trump Grudgingly Recertifies the Nuclear Deal"

#1 Comment By Anthony On July 18, 2017 @ 11:15 am

I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where the United States determined radical Islamic terrorism was a real problem and thus constructed its foreign policy in a way that would combat this threat. You know, like allying ourselves with Iran, the strongest and most stable Islamic nation that actually opposes radical Islam.

#2 Comment By Dan A. Davis On July 18, 2017 @ 11:22 am

The donkey keeps bragging what a great deal-maker he is. He seems to think bleeding weaker businesses with litigation is a great way to get rich, and this extends into politics.

So far, he hasn’t shown any great negotiating skills as POTUS. (Where’s the Fence? Where’s the Ban? Where’s the Obamacare repeal? Where’s the stand-down from worldwide military involvement?)

Don the Doofus is long on insult and threat. Short on results. (His word is his –junk—bond.)

“Who knew it was so hard?”

#3 Comment By Adriana I Pena On July 18, 2017 @ 12:49 pm

Dan, not to take anything from the Orange Doofus, but the Obamacare repeal fiasco lies at the foot of the Republican Party. We realize that in all those years making repeal their battle cry, they never had a plan what to put in place. It was just campaign rethoric, until they were called to deliver.

And they cannot get in the same page.

Worthy Legislators of the Orange Doofus.

#4 Comment By Adriana I Pena On July 18, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

The Orange Doofus would be fun to watch were it not that I know how deadly it is to leave the conduct of a nation in the hands of incompetents. Specially incompetents who believe they hold all the answers.

That’s what happened in the French Revolution. You might look at their ideas and their world vision. But of all the ideas, the most deadly was the belief that prowess in debating societies qualified them to run a country. They too thought they had the answers. They too thought it would be easy.

The magnitude of the disaster then was of epic proportions. But, unlike the Orange Doofus, they did not have access to thermonuclear weapons.

#5 Comment By DP On July 18, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

This is just what happens when we elect a profoundly ignorant man so convinced of his own glory that any attempt to educate him is seen as a personal affront.

#6 Comment By One Man On July 18, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

“…the Obamacare repeal fiasco lies at the foot of the Republican Party.”

Adriana, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Trump promised and promise and promised, remember.

#7 Comment By Eileen Klees On July 18, 2017 @ 11:02 pm

Thank goodness for Daniel Larison’s anti-war updates. I hope there are other like-minded conservatives and libertarians out there who also see the folly of saber rattling.
BTW: The current administration would do well to read (or re-read) The March of Follies.

#8 Comment By Adriana I Pena On July 19, 2017 @ 8:08 am

@One man.

Yes, he promised, and promised, with the assurance of a con man who knows that he will never deliver in his promises, so why not promise the moon?

He is what he is. But those supposedly sober, sensible Republicans who went around campaigning against Obamacare for so long, could not they have gotten together at some point and cobbled any plan that would be available as soon as they took power?

But I guess that getting power was all they cared.

#9 Comment By Seth Owen On July 19, 2017 @ 11:41 am

As usual, Trump can’t comprehend the implications. If the US were to renege on the deal despite Iran’s compliance with its terms the fallout would be immense. How are we supposed to get North Korea to the table after that? They would rightfully believe that it wouldn’t matter if they kept the terms of any deal or not.

Indeed, what would it mean for ANY international agreement signed by the US?

#10 Comment By rayray On July 19, 2017 @ 4:31 pm

@Adiana I Pena
You bring up a good point. The basic problem is that Obamacare is the plan they would put together if it didn’t have Obama’s name on it. Once it passed it was a convenient rallying point. Problem is most of those lambasting it literally DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT IT DID. Go back and look. It’s astonishing.

It is a traditionally conservative plan that is the last bulwark before single-payer (which everyone, even most conservatives, know makes way more sense). In the main it was even designed by conservatives, comes directly from their white papers.

And that’s the conundrum…