President Donald Trump on Friday announced new actions against the Iranian regime to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapon.
Under the deal reached by the Obama administration in 2015, Iran is certain to be able to develop a nuclear weapon by 2026, when key restrictions end.
Pointing to North Korea as an example, Trump said history has shown that a problem becomes more dangerous the longer action is delayed.
“[We will] confront the Iranian’s hostile actions to make sure Iran never—and I mean never—acquires a nuclear weapon,” Trump said at the White House.
The three key actions taken by Trump are to not recertify the agreement with Congress; to attempt to renegotiate parts of the actual deal; and to put additional sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
A recertification by the president to Congress is required every 90-days under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA). Congress passed the act after it became clear Obama would not send the nuclear deal through Congress.
The recertification measures whether the sanctions relief provided to the Iranian regime is proportionate to its efforts to limit its nuclear weapons.
Trump said, that after months of review, his administration has determined that not to be the case.
“Based on the factual record I have put forward I am announcing today that we cannot, and will not, make this certification,” Trump said.
With Trump not rectifying the INARA agreement, it is now up to Congress to decide how to proceed. It has three options: Either do nothing and keep the United States in the agreement; re-impose sanctions on the Iranian regime; or keep INARA in place but build in specific “trigger points” which, if violated, would automatically re-impose sanctions.
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said during an Oct. 12 briefing that the Trump administration has already been talking with congressional leaders and that there is a lot of bipartisan support on the issue.
The Trump administration will also address some of the fundamental problems with the nuclear agreement itself, which is separate from the INARA certification to Congress.
Under the agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran temporarily stopped its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief and the release of over $100 billion in assets.
However, after 10 years, in 2026, Iran is allowed to install thousands of advanced centrifuges, which experts say will put it on course to develop a nuclear weapon within six months.
“The clock is ticking down; we know when the trigger date is,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a briefing.
Trump said that his administration will take action to address the time limit on sanctions, as well as Iran’s development of ballistic missile technology. This will be done through either renegotiating part of the agreement or by reaching a separate agreement.
Trump said that if his administration cannot come to an agreement with Iran and the other signatories to the nuclear deal, he will terminate the deal.
“It can be terminated by me at any time,” Trump said.
Describing the regime as “a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979,” Trump said Iran “spreads death, destruction, and chaos around the world.”
Iran remains one of the world’s leading state-sponsors of terrorism. It provides the Syrian regime with weapons and other military aid, provides funding for the Hezbollah terror group, and supports other radical fighters throughout the Middle East.
“The Iranian dictatorship’s aggression continues to this day,” Trump said, pointing to the regime’s suppression of its own people and hostility against the United States and Israel.
Trump referenced the frequent chants of “death to America” and “death to Israel” used by the regime.
He said he has instructed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for its support of terrorism.
The sanctions will specifically target individuals and Iranian assets, such as weapons experts and cyberactivity that are supporting terrorism.
“We pray for a future where young people, American and Iranian … can grow up in a world free of hatred,” Trump said, saying that until then “we will do what we must to keep America safe.”