President Donald Trump plans to "decertify" the Iran nuclear deal next week, declaring the Obama-era pact not in US interests and launching a congressional review period on the accord, according to two senior US officials. Trump is tentatively scheduled to unveil his plan during remarks a week from Thursday, though one official cautioned the timing could shift.
President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress, people briefed on the White House strategy said Thursday. The move would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran, potentially derailing a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear activities reached in 2015 with the United States and five other nations.
President Donald Trump is weighing a new strategy to confront Iran’s nuclear ambitions that would leave a 2015 agreement intact for now but ask Congress to toughen a law overseeing the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the accord, according to three administration officials. The goal behind the strategy, which Trump is expected to announce next week, would be to present a unified front from the administration and Congress to European allies, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing an issue on which the president hasn’t announced a final decision. The officials declined to say if Trump would also “decertify” Iran’s compliance with the deal, a decision he has to make every 90 days under U.S. law.
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
President Trump is expected to overrule his top national security advisers and decline to certify the Iran nuclear agreement, according to people who have been briefed on the matter, a decision that would reopen a volatile political debate on Iran but is likely to leave in place the landmark deal negotiated by the Obama administration. By declining to certify Iran’s compliance, Mr. Trump would essentially kick it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose punitive economic sanctions. Even among Republicans, there appears to be little appetite to do that, at least for now.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday insisted Iran has not acted in keeping with a deal to curb its nuclear program, days before he must decide on the future of the accord. "They have not lived up to the spirit of the agreement," said Trump, as he huddled with military leaders ahead of perhaps the most consequential foreign policy decision of his young presidency. "The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East," Trump said in the Cabinet Room. "That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions" he said. "You will be hearing about Iran very shortly."
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that Iran had not lived up to the spirit of the nuclear deal agreed with world powers and suggested he would reveal his decision on whether to certify the agreement soon. “We must not allow Iran ... to obtain nuclear weapons,” Trump said during a meeting with military leaders at the White House. “The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East. That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement,” he said. Asked about his decision on whether to certify or decertify the landmark nuclear deal, Trump said: “You’ll be hearing about Iran very shortly.”
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi says the 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and six world powers is not renegotiable. He made the remarks in Rome, where he is to address the XXth Edoardo Amaldi Conference - International Cooperation for Enhancing Nuclear Safety, Security, Safeguards and Non-Proliferation next week. “We have emphasized repeatedly that the JCPOA is not renegotiable,” he told the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), referring to the nuclear agreement that is officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. “Some [parties] want the JCPOA to be renegotiated in technical dimensions, but it is not renegotiable,” Salehi emphasized, noting that Russia, China and EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, had all stressed that the accord is not renegotiable. that, at least for now.
U.S. President Donald Trump has said Iran is not living up to the "spirit" of its nuclear deal with world powers, an assessment that followed media reports that he intends to decertify the landmark 2015 accord. Trump made the statement during an October 5 meeting with military leaders at the White House, 10 days before his deadline to decide whether to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal. "We must not allow Iran...to obtain nuclear weapons," he said.
President Donald Trump is expected to refuse to certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 international nuclear agreement, as part of a broader policy change on Iran to be set out as early as next week, people familiar with the deliberations said. That move would place key decisions about the future of the nuclear deal before Congress, which could move to reinstate sanctions under an expedited 60-day review process……
According to a Thursday report, Trump plans to decertify the Iran deal on Oct. 15. That would be a strategic error. It might become necessary within the next year, but President Trump should not decertify the Iran nuclear deal just yet. First off, that action would give the U.S. a very short diplomatic window with which to reform the deal. Following Trump's decertification, Congress will spend the next 60 days contemplating new sanctions on Iran. At the same time, however, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to persuade the Europeans to support reforms to the deal. And seeing as the Europeans are happy to keep the deal as is, and that the Russians and Chinese will be loath to assist the U.S. in any fashion, Tillerson's task won't be easy.
After discussing Iran and North Korea with U.S. military leaders on Thursday, President Donald Trump posed for a photo with them before dinner and declared the moment “the calm before the storm.” “You guys know what this represents?” Trump said after journalists gathered in the White House state dining room to photograph him and first lady Melania Trump with the uniformed military leaders and their spouses. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” he said. What storm? “You’ll find out,” Trump told questioning reporters. Classical music played in the background and tables were set in the nearby Blue Room for a fancy meal. The White House did not immediately reply to a request to clarify Trump’s remark. Earlier in the evening, while seated with the top defense officials in the cabinet room, Trump talked about the threat from North Korea and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.
The Trump administration on Friday plans to roll out a new public campaign aimed at cracking down more forcefully on the armed wing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, part of a broader effort to counter the militant Shiite group’s chief backer, Iran. The new push will include instituting cash rewards for its “most wanted” operatives, stepping up U.S. intelligence and law enforcement efforts, and also aims to enlist allies to do more to undermine the group’s global network, three administration officials told reporters Thursday.
RUSSIA & IRAN
When Russia unveiled its Orion-E drone at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2017, near Moscow this summer, it bore a “striking resemblance” to an Iranian “Shahed” unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) already flying. “Orion and Shahed look very much alike,” said Samuel Bendett, an associate research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses’ International Affairs Group, speaking Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
Despite Hezbollah's powerful influence over Lebanon, much of the country's Shia community looks to the Iraqi holy city of Najaf for religious guidance and leadership. Although Najaf was never politically involved in Lebanon the way Iran is, the Shia institutions that call it home were once the only religious -- and thereby social -- reference for Lebanese Shia. Over the years, Hezbollah has used its power to turn many Shia toward Iran's Supreme Leader for guidance, but Najaf's influence endured. Prominent Lebanese religious figures such as Muhammad Mahdi Shamseddine, Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, and Hani Fahs all had strong connections to Najaf, and their Iraqi-influenced institutions and legacy still hold considerable sway over Lebanon's Shia scene. The United States and other outside actors have never fully utilized this Iraqi connection when looking to help Lebanon and curb Iran's influence there. Yet new political developments in Iraq could give them a golden opportunity to do so.
As America frets over Russians running rampant on Facebook, other adversaries have been exploiting the social network as a way into some of the world's biggest businesses. An employee at Deloitte, one of the Big Four accounting firms, fell victim to a fake Facebook account in late 2016, Forbes can reveal. And the attacks, believed to have been perpetrated by Iranian government spies, occurred around the same time as a separate hack, recently disclosed by The Guardian, which affected Deloitte data in Microsoft's Azure cloud-hosting service. The lovely and disarming "Mia Ash" is a fictional female created by the highly-active hacker crew known as OilRig, which, as Forbes reported in July, cybersecurity firm SecureWorks believes is sponsored by the Iranian regime. In July 2016, Mia's puppeteers targeted a Deloitte cybersecurity employee, engaging him though the social network in conversations about his job, Forbes learned from sources with direct knowledge of the attack.
A senior Iranian parliamentary delegation visited Damascus and held talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier today, the Iranian media reported. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of the parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, described Syria as a key pillar of the so-called “resistance front” against the United States and congratulated the Syrian president for the latest territorial gains by the Syrian Army and its foreign allies.
When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held “strategic talks” with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Tehran today, three topics topped the agenda: Iraq, Syria and trade. The two sides agreed to assist the Baghdad government in preventing Iraqi Kurdistan from declaring independence, continue to cooperate closely in Syria to reduce violence and fight terrorism, and triple the current volume of trade between the two countries in the near future. Despite concrete steps by the Iranian and Turkish governments to reconcile their differences and bolster bilateral relations, however, divergent interests and a history of distrust will likely continue to hamper the two Middle Eastern rivals' efforts to transform their transactional partnership into a strategic alliance.
Turkey, Iran and Iraq will decide together whether to halt Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil exports as regional powers increase the pressure on the autonomous region after it held an independence referendum. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, said after a one-day trip to Iran that the three nations would act jointly on sanctions against the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurdish authorities depend on a pipeline through Turkey to export about 500,000 barrels of oil a day but also ship oil through Iran. Ankara had been one of the KRG’s staunchest allies and has often had strained relations with Baghdad and Tehran. But concerns that the referendum threatens to destabilise the region and could embolden Kurds in neighbouring countries to push for greater autonomy have caused a thaw in relations as the three countries align to put more pressure on the KRG.
Just four months after accusing Iran of Persian “expansionism” in the Middle East, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Tehran on Oct. 4 to discuss bilateral cooperation and an expansion of economic ties with the country's highest officials. One of the issues that has recently brought Iran and Turkey closer is the Kurdish independence referendum held Sept. 25 in northern Iraq. The vote poses a challenge to both countries because of their own Kurdish populations. While in Iran, Erdogan met with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's highest authority. Speaking about the Iraqi Kurdistan referendum, Khamenei said, “In confronting this event, Iran and Turkey must take every possible action, and Iraq's government must take serious actions on this issue.” He called the referendum “treason” against the region and a future threat with possible long-term consequences.
Turkey, Iran and Iraq will jointly decide on closing the flow of oil from northern Iraq, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Thursday, a retaliatory move after the Kurdish region voted for independence. Erdogan, who was speaking to Turkish media including broadcasters NTV and CNN Turk on his return flight from a one-day trip to Iran, also criticised the inclusion of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in the referendum, saying that Kurds had no legitimacy there. Iran and Turkey have already threatened to join Baghdad in imposing economic sanctions on Iraqi Kurdistan and have launched joint military exercises with Iraqi troops on their borders after northern Iraq's independence referendum last month. Last month, Russian oil major Rosneft clinched a gas pipeline deal in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan to help it become a major exporter of gas to Turkey and Europe. The pipeline will be constructed in 2019 and exports will begin in 2020.
GULF STATES & IRAN
Iran must stop meddling in the Middle East, visiting Saudi King Salman told Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in the Kremlin on Thursday, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported. “We emphasize that the security and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East is an urgent necessity for achieving stability and security in Yemen,” Salman said, quoted by the agency. “This would demand that Iran give up interference with the internal affairs of the region, to give up actions destabilizing the situation in this region.”