Tuesday, October 17, 2017

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
The Corker-Cordin law describes what the President must do every 90 days:

COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION.—After the review period provided in subsection (b), the President shall, not less than every 90 calendar days—
“(A) determine whether the President is able to certify that—
“(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;
“(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
“(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert action, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and
“(iv) suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is
“(I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and
“(II) vital to the national security interests of the United States; 
Much of the media is reporting that President Trump didn't certify based on condition 1, that iran is not implementing the agreement, or condition 2 or 3 or even 4(II.) . But what Trump did was to decertify based on condition 4(I), that the suspension of sanctions are not "appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program."

Trump said this explicitly:
When the agreement was finalized in 2015, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to ensure that Congress’s voice would be heard on the deal. Among other conditions, this law requires the President, or his designee, to certify that the suspension of sanctions under the deal is “appropriate and proportionate” to measure -- and other measures taken by Iran to terminate its illicit nuclear program. Based on the factual record I have put forward, I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification.
Given that Iran does not allow the IAEA to inspect its military facilities, meaning that there is no transparency on what Iran is actually doing, and the sanctions were removed anyway, this is quite accurate. It is consistent with what Trump has said all along about the deal.

This was explained on NPR by NSC spokesperson Michael Anton to clueless reporter Rachel Martin:
MARTIN: If President Trump thinks this is such a bad deal, why not just rip it up altogether? Why this half measure of punting the issue to Congress?
ANTON: Well, a couple of things. First of all, you know, when you - in the lead-in, you used the phrase decertify, which isn't exactly accurate. And the other point I want to make, which is a related point, is we're talking about two different things. The action that the president declined to take on Friday was an action under U.S. law, the so-called INARA, or Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. And it really does not directly relate to the deal. That's a law that Congress passed because the prior administration did not submit the deal to Congress as a treaty but made it an executive action only. And Congress wanted to have a say. One of the things they did is they put this 90-day requirement into a law that says an administration has to tell Congress if they think Iran is working in good faith in four particular areas.
MARTIN: But the bottom line is the president believes that Iran is not complying with the deal.
ANTON: No, that's not what he said. What he said was - again, there are four criteria. And what he said - one of those criteria - is the deal - the sanctions relief provided under the deal appropriate and proportional to the benefits? And he has said all along, since he first started running for president, that he thought the main flaw of this deal was that it gave Iran too much for too few concessions. That is a criteria that Congress wrote into the INARA law. And that is the criteria in which the president cited when he declined to certify the deal.
MARTIN: Then how does that change? Because now you've said Congress sits in your court. But Congress can't unilaterally renegotiate what was a deal that was...
MARTIN: ...Brokered between many allies.
ANTON: Right. That's not what we're asking Congress to do or what we're working with Congress on. What we're asking Congress to do is to set new conditions in U.S. law that hold Iran accountable and that - to a standard. So for instance, what we want to say is if Iran gets within one year of a breakout period where they can achieve a nuclear weapon, then American sanctions automatically step back. Everything that we're asking Congress to do are things that are designed to prevent Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if the goal of the nuclear deal is to prevent that, it's hard to see how anybody could oppose these measures.
MARTIN: Do you think that's likely to happen? I mean, Congress, even with Republicans holding the majority, have struggled to move ahead with a whole lot of things the president has called them to act on. So do you think Congress is going to get in line?
ANTON: We'll see. We're very hopeful. As I said, there doesn't seem to be, in my view, any constituency in Congress for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. So the passage of some new, tough measures to ensure that that never happens should not be controversial.
MARTIN: The president has put a lot of stock in the opinions of his military advisers, talking often about the generals, how much he values their advice. But both the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joe Dunford, and the secretary of defense, James Mattis, have said the president should stay in the deal unequivocally. What are they missing?
ANTON: There's no - this is a misinterpretation of comments that they've made. What they said is right now it's in the national interest of the United States to remain in the deal. Well, guess what? The United States is still in the deal. The principals, that is including General Mattis, General Dunford, the secretary of state and others, presented the president with a consensus recommendation of what to do this time, which was to remain in but seek to address the deal's flaws both in U.S. law and working with allies.
And the one thing, too, that I need to make clear, which is a fundamental point here - what the president did on Friday was much more than announce his decision on what to do with a certain 90-day certification requirement in U.S. law. Although he did announce that, he - what he really did more fundamentally was roll out a comprehensive Iran strategy that puts forth ideas and plans for the United States to counter the full range of Iranian malign behavior, which includes nuclear weapons activities but also includes ballistic missile development proliferation, support and funding for terrorism - they're the world's No. 1 state sponsor of terror - and regional destabilization, including fueling the Syrian civil war.
Too bad the media doesn't want to get this right.

(h/t TIP)

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