Ryan Costello ably sums up the efforts of the Trump administration and its hawkish allies to scrap the nuclear deal:
President Donald Trump has punted the fate of the Iran nuclear deal to Congress, vowing to terminate the multilateral accord by mid-May if his unrealistic demands are not met. By issuing ultimatums from the White House while outsourcing the work to Congress, Trump has set up a process that can seemingly only fail. The United States cannot simply legislate new demands to an international agreement and the current Congress lacks the political wherewithal to approach the matter seriously. One need look no further to back up this claim than the first Iran bill in line with Trump’s demands, offered by Reps. Peter Roskam and Liz Cheney and backed by the hub of Iran nuclear deal opposition at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. It is such an unrealistic piece of legislation that the only rational way to explain it is as part of a broader approach to ensure the termination of the deal.
Iran hawks have sought at every turn to derail, sabotage, and then violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and these latest maneuvers fit that pattern. Though they feign interest in “fixing” the agreement, the “fixes” they would impose are not only unacceptable to the Iranians but would also represent violations of the existing deal by our government. I have mentioned this before, but it is useful to consider how outraged the same people would be if Iran began making unilateral changes to the agreement and threatened to abandon their commitments if the other parties refused to yield to their demands. If that happened, our hard-liners would point to it as proof of the other side’s bad faith and intent to break their word. When our government officials and elected representatives do the same thing, their actions are often spun in media accounts as trying to “toughen” the agreement, but this is akin to reinforcing a structure by setting fire to it.
Iran hawks never wanted the nuclear deal to be negotiated, and once it was negotiated they have been determined that it should fail. They first assumed that it would fail because they thought Iran would violate it, but when Iran complied they had to blow it up some other way. They want to do this not only because they detest all diplomatic engagement with Iran, but also because they are opposed to all diplomatic compromises with “rogue” states no matter how advantageous they might be. Because they foolishly regard engagement as a “reward” for the other side and consider all diplomatic compromise with adversaries as “appeasement,” they are bound to hate any agreement that could ever realistically be made. So we can be confident that when they say they want to “fix” the deal’s “flaws,” they mean that they want to kill the deal because of its virtues.
The Roskam-Cheney bill is an expression of this hawkish loathing of diplomacy, as it would require the U.S. to make the sanction relief required under the JCPOA contingent on a number of new certifications that are designed to ensure the collapse of the deal. Costello explains just how stupid this is:
The inclusion of these certifications would sacrifice the tangible protections of the JCPOA in the misguided hopes of achieving negligible gains. In lieu of Iran’s obligated ratification of the Additional Protocol in 2023, Roskam and Cheney would collapse the agreement and ensure the Additional Protocol is never ratified. Instead of suggested guidelines on Iranian heavy water that have been largely adhered to under the JCPOA, the United States would put at risk firm limits on enrichment that have distanced Iran from a nuclear weapon. In tying the accord’s fate to conventional missile testing, the bill would enable Iran to move closer to fitting their missiles with nuclear warheads. And, rather than be content with an established mechanism to ensure IAEA inspection of nuclear facilities and any suspicious facility in Iran—including military sites—it would sacrifice “the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” according to IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano, on the basis of little more than right-wing conspiracy theories.