Eye on Iran: Trump to Chart Hawkish Course on Iran

TOP STORIES

Trump to Chart Hawkish Course on Iran | Foreign Policy

President Donald Trump plans to tell Congress this month that the Iran nuclear deal is not in America’s national interest, but he will stop short of urging lawmakers to reimpose crippling economic sanctions on Tehran. The move would put both Iran and European allies on notice that the Trump administration will insist on a new agreement with Tehran to address what it sees as shortcomings in the original 2015 deal, especially the fact that key restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program will end in 10 years, sources familiar with the administration’s deliberations told Foreign Policy. Additionally, the administration is concerned about Iran’s destabilizing role in the region, and especially its continued development of long-range missiles.

Trump to Deliver Iran Policy Speech Oct. 12 | Associated Press

Officials say President Donald Trump is planning to deliver an Iran policy speech next week, and he is expected to say that the landmark 2015 nuclear deal is no longer in the U.S. national security interest. U.S. officials say the White House has tentatively scheduled Trump’s speech for Oct. 12 in Washington. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss planning for the event. Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is still complying with the nuclear accord and that the deal serves American interests.

Trump Expected to Declare Iran in Breach of Nuclear Deal | Washington Free Beacon

The Trump administration is expected to announce next week that it will not formally certify Iran as in compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement, a move that could kill the agreement and set the stage for Congress to reimpose harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic, according to multiple U.S. officials and sources familiar with the situation… The final nail in the coffin, these sources said, was the recent admission by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, that it cannot fully assess whether Iran is working on sensitive nuclear explosive technology due to restrictions on inspections and specific sites in the Islamic Republic. This disclosure has roiled congressional opponents of the deal and is said to have finally pushed the Trump administration to stop certifying Iran as in compliance with the deal, a decision which must be made by Oct. 15.

UANI IN THE NEWS

[UANI Chairman and] Former Sen. Joe Lieberman: Kill the Iran Deal | Newsmax

Former Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman told Newsmax he is urging the president “not to recertify” the Obama administration’s controversial deal with Iran. “Every 90 days that the agreement stays on the book is not in the national security interests,” said Lieberman, who caucused with the Democrats and was the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee. He now heads a bipartisan group known as “United Against a Nuclear Ira[n]”... [R]emember — all foreign businesses want to do business with the U.S.,” Lieberman told me, “and it might be wise to limit the ability of foreign countries to do business in this country when they business with Iran.”

Trump Administration Weighs Iran Nuclear Deal | UANI Policy Director Jason Brodsky on Clear Cut with Michelle Makori

(03:38 - 04:02): Yes, tensions are high. There’s a lot of speculation the President will decertify the nuclear deal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the United States is withdrawing from the deal. It essentially kicks the can to Congress and Congress, if it decides to reimpose the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, that would basically be an abrogation of the international agreement.

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Should Trump Re-certify the Iran Deal? | Michael Rubin for the Washington Examiner

Should Trump walk away from the deal? Probably not. But he should make its 90-day continuance contingent on implementation of all parts of the deal, no matter what objections the Kremlin may voice, and on the rapid inspection of Iranian military bases where nuclear weapons work might continue. Not only the deal is at stake, but the IAEA's relevance. At the same time, he must prepare for the day that Iran either walks away from the deal, or the JCPOA sunsets. Because, far from eliminating Iran's pathway to a bomb, Obama and Kerry simply kicked the can down the road. Alas, the U.S. and Iran are heading far more quickly to its dead-end than diplomats blinded by projection, wishful thinking, and the temptation of trade realize.

Getting Set to Nuke the Iran Deal | New York Post Editorial Board

As a candidate, President Trump denounced the “catastrophic” Iran nuclear deal and vowed to tear it up. He gets his next chance in 10 days — but evidence is mounting that he won’t do so. Yet he’s not leaving it perfectly intact, either. Multiple reports say he’s pursuing a middle strategy: Decertifying Iran’s compliance by the Oct. 15 deadline, but urging Congress not to reimpose sanctions lifted by the accord — not yet, anyway. Then Team Trump will work with both Congress and Europe to bring new pressure on Tehran to strengthen the deal.

'World's Most Robust' Nuclear Inspection Program Under Fire as Trump Tries to Rewrite the Iran Deal | The Los Angeles Times

The International Atomic Energy Agency describes the transcontinental monitoring program it operates as the toughest and most technologically advanced inspections regime put in place to prevent a country from developing an atomic bomb. But some Trump administration officials and outside experts argue that the organization — the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency — is not inspecting Iranian facilities aggressively enough. And they say that the 2015 agreement, under which Iran accepted limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions, has not reined in its provocative behavior elsewhere — including testing ballistic missiles, imprisoning Americans and allegedly arming Shiite Muslim rebels in Yemen.

Trump to Receive Multiple Options on Iran Nuclear Deal: Tillerson | Reuters

President Donald Trump will be presented with multiple options regarding the future of the Iran nuclear deal ahead of an Oct. 15 deadline to certify whether Tehran is complying with the pact, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday.

Defending the Indefensible | Lawrence J. Haas for the American Foreign Policy Council

Like an all-too-proud father rejecting a teacher's legitimate criticism of his child, former Secretary of State John Kerry is defending the U.S.-led global nuclear agreement with Iran that he engineered from the legitimate concerns of Iran-watchers in the Trump administration, Congress and the private sector… Kerry's defense isn't convincing, however. He splits hairs, disregards facts and lowers the bar for judging the controversial agreement, to which the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) and Iran agreed in July of 2015 and which took effect the following January.

Mr. President, Decertify the Iran Deal and Then Walk Away | Andrew C. McCarthy for National Review

The question is not whether President Trump should decertify President Obama’s farcical Iran nuclear deal. Of course he should. Indeed, he must: Even if we set common sense to the side, federal law requires it. Instead, there are two questions. 1. Why has President Trump recertified the deal, not once but twice?...And what about that second representation: vital to the national-security interests of the United States?

Trump’s Iran Decision? | New York Sun Editorial Board

It may be too soon to say with certainty what President Trump is going to do in respect of the nuclear deal with Iran. It’s not too soon, though, to express the hope that the report late this morning is accurate – that the president has decided to decertify Iranian compliance with the deal. That would be the most encouraging foreign policy development of Mr. Trump’s presidency so far.

Europe’s Governments Look to Bypass Trump to Save Iranian Nuclear Deal | Guardian [U.K.]

European governments fear a concerted effort to persuade Donald Trump to continue to certify the Iran nuclear deal may have failed and are now looking for other ways to try to salvage the two year-old agreement. European lobbying efforts are now focused on Congress which will have two months to decide – in the absence of Trump’s endorsement of the 2015 deal – whether to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions.

Europe Will Do Everything to Preserve Iran Nuclear Deal: EU Diplomat | Reuters

European countries will do their utmost to preserve a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program despite misgivings by U.S. President Donald Trump, a senior European Union diplomat said on Wednesday. “This is not a bilateral agreement, it’s a multilateral agreement. As Europeans, we will do everything to make sure it stays,” Helga Schmid, secretary general of the EU’s foreign policy service, told an Iranian investment conference in Switzerland’s financial capital.

U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS

Trump's New Policy Will Focus on Iran's Meddlers | Eli Lake for Bloomberg

After more than nine months in office, President Donald Trump finally has an Iran policy. Last month before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump approved the long-awaited strategy to deal with Iran, according to administration officials. These officials tell me it will outline a new aggressive approach to countering Iranian threats all over the globe and endeavor to use the leverage of Trump's threats over the Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, to spur U.S. allies to begin to address its flaws.

CONGRESS & IRAN

Key Senator Lays Out a Path for Trump on Iran Nuclear Deal | Bloomberg

A key U.S. senator long opposed to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran offered a path for President Donald Trump to distance himself from the accord without immediately quitting it, imposing new sanctions or carrying out military action. Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said Trump should “decertify” Iran’s compliance with the agreement in a report required by Congress every 90 days and next due on Oct. 15. That, Cotton said, would let Congress develop a list of demands that the president could press European allies who are part of the accord -- and oppose abandoning it -- to accept.

Exclusive: European Envoys Take Fight for Iran Nuclear Deal to U.S. Congress | Reuters

As Congress faces a possible fight over the future of the Iran nuclear agreement, European ambassadors and officials from President Barack Obama’s administration are making their case for preserving the pact directly to U.S. lawmakers. The British, French, German and European Union ambassadors to the United States will participate later on Wednesday in a meeting on Capitol Hill with Democratic senators organized by the Senate’s number two Democrat, Richard Durbin, congressional aides and embassy officials told Reuters.

Top Democrat Cardin to Trump: Don’t Decertify Iran Deal | Times of Israel

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged US President Donald Trump on Wednesday to remain in the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and not decertify Tehran’s compliance without any proof the regime is not holding its end of the bargain. Taking such action, Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland said, would constitute a US violation of the 2015 landmark pact in which the US removed sanctions against Iran in exchange for it rolling back its nuclear program.

More than 180 Dems Sign Letter Pushing Trump to Re-certify Iran Nuclear Deal | Hill

A group of over 180 Democrats led by Reps. Ted Deutch (Fla.) and David Price (N.C.) sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday urging him to re-certify the Iran nuclear accord to Congress ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline. The letter, signed by all of the House Democratic leadership, says that decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) could "embolden" Iran and compromise the international effort to contain the country's nuclear development.

BUSINESS RISK

Donald Trump's Threats Cast Shadow over Europe-Iran Forum | Deutsche Welle

After the international nuclear accord in 2015, European and Iranian businesses have worked to expand previously prohibited trade and investment, but tens of billions of euros in deals are being slowed down because of political uncertainty and financial issues. US President Donald Trump is threatening to decertify the pact ahead of a congressionally mandated October 15 deadline to report on Iran's compliance. That would give Congress 60 days to snap back sanctions that were lifted as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the accord signed in 2015 by Iran and six world powers.

If Trump Scraps the Iran Nuclear Deal, the First Loser May Be Boeing | CNBC

President Donald Trump is threatening to "decertify" the 2015 agreement that froze Iran's nuclear program — and if he follows through, it could hurt Boeing. The U.S. aircraft maker has an agreement to sell 80 new planes to Iran Air and another 30 to Iranian carrier Aseman. The total value of those deals is about $20 billion dollars.

SANCTIONS RELIEF

Iran, Ireland Set to Broaden Bilateral Ties | Financial Tribune [Iran]

A top Irish senator said an economic delegation from the European country will take a trip to Iran shortly, in what he described as the first concrete step toward developing bilateral trade ties. "We are already engaged in cooperation with Iran on the export of agricultural equipment and medicine and technology sharing, which we intend to increase," Denis O'Donovan, chairman of the upper house of Irish Parliament, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

MILITARY MATTERS  

How to Contain and Roll Back Iranian-Backed Militias | Michael Knights of The Washington Institute

We're here today because Iran is in the process of spreading its military and political influence across the Middle East to a greater extent than ever before. How is it achieving this? Tehran has found an economical and sustainable means of resourcing its expansion -- the so-called Iranian Foreign Legion. This formula works for one simple reason: At little cost, Iran can take poor, enthusiastic young men from Arab countries and Afghanistan and throw them into the meat-grinder of the region's wars. Instead of risking its own people, Iran has hit on an alternative way of putting boots on the ground. This will increasingly allow Tehran to "fight to the last Arab" or "the last Afghan" in its regional wars, because these casualties bear no political repercussions in Iran. This is a capability that cannot be allowed to develop any further because it is a potential war-winner -- against America, our allies in Iraq and Yemen and Syria, and even against Israel

IRAQ CRISIS

Meeting In Tehran, Iranian And Turkish Presidents Stress Opposition To Kurdish State | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

The presidents of Iran and Turkey say their countries will take steps to ensure that borders in the region remain unchanged following last week’s independence referendum in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. "We will not accept changing borders in the region," Iranian President Hassan Rohani said in Tehran on October 4 at a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Turkey, Iran, and Iraq have no choice but to take serious and necessary measures to protect their strategic goals in the region," he also said.

Khamenei Says Iran, Turkey Must Act against Kurdish Secession - TV | Reuters

Iran and Turkey should prevent Iraq’s Kurdistan region from declaring independence, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran, state TV reported. Relations have generally been cool between Shi‘ite Iran and mainly Sunni Turkey, a NATO member. But both have been alarmed by the Iraqi Kurds’ vote for independence last month, fearing it will stoke separatism among their own Kurdish populations.

Iran Says Tehran, Ankara to Confront Disintegration of Iraq, Syria: TV | Reuters

Iran and Turkey will work together to confront the disintegration of Iraq and Syria to ease tension in the crisis-hit region, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday after meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Tehran. “We want security and stability in the Middle East ... the independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan is a sectarian plot by foreign countries and is rejected by Tehran and Ankara,” Rouhani told a joint news conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Kurdish Referendum Tests Iran-Turkey-Russia Axis | Al-Monitor

Less than two months after Iran’s Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Bagheri paid a rare official visit to Ankara, his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, visited Tehran on Oct. 2 to meet high-ranking Iranian officials and discuss bilateral and regional issues. However, although the two generals' meeting in Ankara was more focused on finding a common ground in Syria, their encounter in Tehran was shadowed by a more urgent and crucial issue, namely the Sept. 25 independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. Akar’s Iran visit, which began two days before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Oct. 4 visit to Tehran, came as the two countries are trying to arrive at a coordinated policy on how to deal with the Kurdish issue.

Iran’s Pressure on Kurds Could Backfire | Al-Monitor

Iran devoted enormous energy to try to prevent Iraqi Kurds from holding their Sept. 25 independence referendum, accusing the Kurdish leadership of recklessness and endangering the stability of the region. Having failed in that endeavor, officials in Tehran are now at a loss as to what punitive measures they can realistically take to punish the Kurds without causing further instability on their doorstep.  As the pressure mounts on Iraqi Kurds following the plebiscite in which nearly 93% of voters cast ballots in favor of seceding from Iraq, Iran as a historical ally of the Iraqi Kurds appears to be hesitant to take extreme measures against its western neighbor, fearing further instability that could easily spill over into Iran's own Kurdish areas. Nonetheless, Tehran has taken some half measures against the Iraqi Kurds, seemingly mainly for domestic consumption.

DOMESTIC POLITICS

Analysis: The Disintegrating Moral Fabric of Iranian Society | Tony Duheaume for Al Arabiya [UAE]

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had nothing but contempt for the ordinary citizens of Iran. In his own words, he saw them as “ignorant, incomplete and imperfect”. Such was his contempt for those he was destined to enslave that he described them as nothing more than brutes, who would eventually destroy each other if left to their own devices… With Iran facing significant economic issues such as inflation, unemployment, renewed sanctions, and a severe lack of housing, the regime continues to plunder the people’s wealth, making billionaires out of many of the country’s leaders, and the military budget under so-called moderate Rouhani rising to $285 billion. Billions of dollars that should be earmarked for building up Iran’s economy is being frittered away in a mad rush to acquire new weaponry and not for providing food and shelter for those in need.