Trump weighs ‘decertifying’ Iran nuclear deal

Donald Trump
Updated 04 October 2017
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Trump weighs ‘decertifying’ Iran nuclear deal

Washington: President Donald Trump has railed against a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, but officials say that far from scrapping it, he is considering kicking the decision to Congress.
Ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline, several officials familiar with White House deliberations told AFP Trump has made it clear he does not want to certify Iran’s compliance with the accord.
The 2015-era Obama agreement offered Tehran relief from punitive economic sanctions, in return for limits to uranium enrichment and intrusive inspections.
Every 90 days Trump must decide whether Iran is living up to its end of the bargain, something that has already caused him political pain on two occasions.
The Trump administration has publicly accused Iran of violating the “spirit” of the accord — known as the JCPOA — although some officials privately admit there is a thin line between testing the limits and a material breach.
Trump’s top military adviser, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen. James Dunford, has told Congress the briefings he has received “indicate that Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations.”
But Republicans are under domestic political pressure to fulfill campaign and donor promises to scrap the accord.
Trump has called the deal an “embarrassment to the United States” and had urged allies and fellow signatories in London, Paris and Berlin to renegotiate it, something they are unwilling to do.
But now a middle path is being explored, which would make Trump’s opposition clear, but stop short of scrapping the deal outright and perhaps clear the 90-day-review off his desk.
Under the plan, Trump could find Iran in breach or — less provocatively — refuse to certify Tehran’s compliance, giving Congress 60 days to decide whether to impose sanctions.
The issue has prompted fierce debate inside the administration, and with this mercurial president, anything is still possible between now and the deadline.
But “it seems like he was leaning that way,” said one official, echoing the accounts of others who refused to speak on the record, because of the sensitivity of the subject.


Cobra Gold: One of Asia’s largest war drills opens in Thailand

Updated 35 min 1 sec ago
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Cobra Gold: One of Asia’s largest war drills opens in Thailand

  • Cobra Gold is one of the largest military exercises in Asia
  • On Saturday US, Thai and South Korean forces descended on Namsai beach in Chonburi province in a joint drill intended to simulate securing the territory

SATTAHIP, Thailand: With weapons drawn camouflaged troops leapt out of amphibious assault craft while explosions sounded and parachutists glided in from above as the annual Cobra Gold war games took over a placid Thai beach Saturday.
Now in its 38th year, Cobra Gold is one of the largest military exercises in Asia, bringing thousands of forces from the United States, Thailand and other countries together for 11 days of training on Thai shores.
This year’s drill includes some 2,000 US Marines, 1,000 US soldiers and hundreds from the country’s Navy and Air Force.
On Saturday US, Thai and South Korean forces descended on Namsai beach in Chonburi province in a joint drill intended to simulate securing the territory.
Captain Melvin Spiese said the goal was to “bring power from ship to shore” and be ready for “any kind of future crisis we might need to respond to with our Thai counterparts.”
Helicopters buzzed overhead and fighter jets roared across the skies.
Cobra Gold exercises span air, land and sea and feature a jungle survivalist session where participants take turns drinking blood from a severed cobra and snacking on insects and scorpions.
Singapore, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia also took part in the war games.
A 2014 army coup in Thailand tested ties with Washington and the kingdom tilted towards China with high-profile arms buys.
But US military sales continued and the two countries have upped their engagement under US President Donald Trump, who has stepped back on human rights issues and invited junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha to the White House.
Prayut, who led the 2014 coup, is standing for prime minister in elections set for March 24.