President Trump appears poised next week to announce that the landmark Iran nuclear agreement is no longer in the national interest of the United States. The so-called “decertification” would not be the fatal blow to the Iran deal that Trump promised on the campaign trail, but it would kick the issue back to Congress, which could potentially pull out of the deal entirely.
Iran must pay $63.5 million to a former U.S. Marine who was jailed in that country for more than four years, according to a ruling by a U.S. judge announced Monday. Judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday granted Amir Hekmati’s motion for a default judgment after Iran failed to respond to the complaint. Hekmati, who was released in January 2016 as part of a prisoner exchange, alleged he was falsely imprisoned and tortured.
The family of an Iranian-British woman serving a five-year prison sentence in Tehran for allegedly plotting to topple Iran's clerical establishment says a new case has been opened against her. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family said that the charity worker faced a court hearing at Tehran's Evin prison on October 8 during which she heard of the new charges being brought against her. An October 9 statement said that the new charges included joining and receiving money from organizations working to overthrow the Islamic republic, and attending a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
President Trump will address U.S. policy toward Iran on Thursday, doubtless focusing on his decision regarding Barack Obama's badly flawed nuclear deal. Key officials are now briefing Congress, the press and foreign governments about the speech, cautioning that the final product is, in fact, not yet final. The preponderant media speculation is that Trump's senior advisers are positioning him to make a serious mistake, based on their flawed advice. Wishful thinking about Iran's mullahs, near-religious faith in the power of pieces of paper, and a retreat from executive authority are hallmarks of the impending crash.
The nuclear deal with Iran was reached in 2015 by President Obama’s administration and the governments of Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The agreement prohibits the U.S. from reimposing the original sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, but does not rule out tough sanctions on Iranian entities responsible for terrorism, missile development, regional aggression, corruption and human rights violations. These kinds of sanctions could exert the pressure necessary to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.
The Trump administration, I believe, should not certify compliance, not because the deal is not in American interests but because there is insufficient evidence to show that Iran is in fact adhering to the terms of the pact… Since the agreement went into effect, Iran has been caught with possessing too many advanced centrifuges and producing too much heavy water. The Islamic Republic has tried to stiff international inspectors. None of these breaches could have been accidental, but none has been considered material. There is one breach, however, that would be both material and uncured. That would be Iran’s not ending its nuclear weapons cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Sen. Bob Corker seemed to speak for many in Washington — including a lot of Republicans — when he unloaded on President Trump in an interview with The New York Times, in which he described the president as “reckless” and his White House as a “reality show.” Earlier, Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, designated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as the men who “separate our country from chaos,” the implication being without these “adults,” hindering him, Trump would set the nation “on a path to World War III.”
President Trump certainly seems to have struck a nerve — given Tehran’s over-the-top response to reports he’s about to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. “If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government . . . then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State,” declared the group’s commander, Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari.
The head of Iran's nuclear agency warned the United States on Tuesday against undermining the 2015 nuclear deal, saying international nonproliferation efforts as well as Washington's international standing would suffer as a result.
During a phone call with her Israeli counterpart, the prime minister said the deal "neutralised the possibility of the Iranians acquiring nuclear weapons for more than a decade". However, the UK's stance could leave it at odds with the United States. President Trump is expected to announce soon he will not recertify that Iran is in compliance with the deal.
Germany is worried that U.S. President Donald Trump will decide this week that Iran is not respecting a two-year-old deal to curb its nuclear programme and fears such a step will worsen the security situation in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany was prepared to work with the United States to change Iran's behaviour in the region but "we do not want to see this agreement damaged." "We are looking with great concern towards the United States," Gabriel told reporters in Berlin.
China said on Monday it hopes the Iran nuclear deal will stay intact, playing an important role in keeping the peace, after a senior U.S. official said President Donald Trump is expected to decertify the agreement.
NUCLEAR & BALLISTIC-MISSILE PROGRAMS
Iran tried to obtain illicit technology that could be used for military nuclear and ballistic missile programs, raising questions about a possible violation of the 2015 agreement intended to stop Tehran’s drive to become an atomic armed power, according to three German intelligence reports obtained by Fox News. The new intelligence, detailing reports from September and October and disclosed just ahead of President Trump’s planned announcement Thursday on whether the U.S. will recertify the Iran deal, reveals that Iran’s regime made “32 procurement attempts … that definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation programs.”
Iran told the United States on Tuesday that it will keep “all options on table” if President Donald Trump designates its elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. It came hours after the government said Washington itself would be aiding terrorism if it took such an action. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week his final decision on how he wants to contain Iran’s regional influence.
CONGRESS & IRAN
I opposed the Iran nuclear agreement. I reached that conclusion from the dozens of hearings I attended as the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, hundreds of hours of briefings that included classified material, and meticulous assessment of the negotiations and how the United States and its five negotiating partners approached the most challenging issues. Today I believe America’s interests are best served by living up to our commitments in the deal, aggressively enforcing it, cracking down on Iran’s other dangerous behavior, and continuing to look for ways to make the nuclear agreement stronger.
On the eve of a crucial decision by President Trump regarding the Iran nuclear agreement, the Iranian stock market is showing signs of strength. Despite dropping one point four percent in a week, the Tehran Stock Exchange is up two percent in a month, four and a half percent in three months and seven point three percent in six months. "The threat of decertification does have a huge psychological impact," said Ramin Rabii, CEO of Turquoise Partners. As head of Iran's leading investment firm catering to foreign investors Rabii admits "risk is still a major concern."
Front month ICE Brent crude for December delivery experienced the largest one-day dollar decline since early July on Friday, settling at $55.62 per barrel on Friday. United States Oil (ticker: USO) and the iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return Index (OIL), both exchange-traded notes, tumbled, but appear to be on the mend so far Monday morning. Goldman Sachs' Damien Courvalin says much depends on the Trump administration's certifying to Congress that Iran is compliant with the nuclear deal next week on Oct. 15.
Iran’s state TV is reporting that a Zoroastrian member of Yazd City Council has been suspended following a complaint. The Monday report said that the Administrative Justice Court issued the suspension for Sepanta Niknam following a complaint by a candidate for the Yazd city council, purportedly over the fencing around the city’s famed “Tower of Silence”.
In the United States, discussions of Iran have for the last few years been mostly about the JCPOA—the nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama. In the Middle East, things are different. This is because while we have been debating, Iran has been acting. And Israel has been reacting.