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Trump warns of calm before the storm, may decertify Iran nuclear deal

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington. (AFP)
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump is planning to decertify the landmark Iran nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, paving the way for the potential re-imposition of sanctions, two leading US dailies reported Friday.
Trump will argue that the agreement is not in America’s interest, the Washington Post reported, quoting four people close to him.
The New York Times, quoting people briefed on the matter, reported that Trump plans to decertify the accord but leave it in force and make Congress decide whether to re-impose sanctions.
Decertification would allow Trump to argue that he has rejected the accord as pledged, but has not completely ignored senior advisers and lawmakers who say it should stand.
“They (Iran) have not lived up to the spirit of the agreement. The Iranian regime supports terrorism, and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East,” said Trump, who described the deal as an “embarrassment” at the UN General Assembly.
“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. You will be hearing about Iran very shortly,” he added, telling reporters that this might be “the calm before the storm.”
Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told Arab News: “Decertification, if it occurs, is an indispensable first step to fixing a fatally flawed nuclear deal.”
He added: “It’s also an integral part of a comprehensive American pressure strategy to target Iranian regime aggression abroad and repression at home.”
Alex Vatanka, a specialist on Iran at the Middle East Institute, asked: “Will they (Congress) want to hold the blame for the death of the nuclear deal?”
He also questioned whether Trump holds enough political capital with Congress to compel it to take action.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey told Arab News that while supporters of the nuclear deal argued that it would advance peace and stability in the Middle East, “Iran has in some respects vastly increased its destabilizing activities, from Yemen and Lebanon through Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, since the summer of 2015.”
So far, Iran has reaped the economic benefits of the deal but has refused to change its policies in the region, he said. “It’s not all about the agreement. It’s also about Iran’s behavior in the region,” Jeffrey added.