In a statement released by the White House on January 12, President Trump made it clear that his goal in waving the sanctions for #Iran per the nuclear deal is to give those involved in the agreement a chance to fix it. President Trump has repeatedly indicated that the 2015 nuclear agreement was a bad deal, and the actions of his administration have been focused on calling Iran to account.
His administration is actively calling attention to the Iranian ballistic missile program and human rights abuses, even though President Trump’s comments have alienated or strained relationships with allies whose support would be needed to take a more hardline approach with Iran.
“The regime’s destructive missiles threaten neighboring countries and international shipping. Within Iran, the Supreme Leader and his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) use mass arrests and torture to oppress and silence Iran’s people. Iran’s ruling elite has let their citizens go hungry, while enriching themselves by stealing Iran’s national wealth,” said Trump.
Last October, President Trump outlined a strategy for addressing the Iranian regime. He stressed the importance of countering Iran’s proxy wars in Yemen and Syria, as well as working to cut off the regime’s flow of money to terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon. New sanctions have also been issued against various individuals and organizations involved in the Iranian ballistic missile program. Legislation is moving forward to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization.
Trump also indicated that he would support the Iranian people in their efforts to demand change through widespread protests. He also criticized former President Obama for his actions during the 2009 protests in Iran.
“President Obama failed to act as the Iranian people took to the streets in 2009. He turned a blind eye as Iran built and tested dangerous missiles and exported terror. He curried favor with the Iranian regime in order to push through the disastrously flawed Iran nuclear deal,” said Trump.
From the point of view of Trump’s administration, the nuclear agreement gave far too much to Iran in exchange for very little. Specifically, the regime received access to billions of dollars of cash, much of which has gone to funding its military ambitions throughout the region, with little being used to benefit the Iranian people. Recent disasters within Iran have gained a half-hearted response from the regime, leaving the people struggling to provide for their families and rebuild their lives.
“The enormous financial windfall the Iranian regime received because of the deal…has not been used to better the lives of the Iranian people. Instead, it has served as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression, and to further line the pockets of corrupt regime leaders. The Iranian people know this, which is one reason why so many have taken to the streets to express their outrage,” said Trump.
In spite of his inclination to withdraw the United States from the nuclear agreement, President Trump has indicated that he is willing to remain part of the agreement if key issues are addressed. He outlined four components that need to be part of any bipartisan legislation on Iran.
“First, it must demand that Iran allow immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors. Second, it must ensure that Iran never even comes close to possessing a nuclear weapon. Third, unlike the nuclear deal, these provisions must have no expiration date. My policy is to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon-not just for ten years, but forever. If Iran does not comply with any of these provisions, American nuclear sanctions would automatically resume. Fourth, the legislation must explicitly state in United States law…that long-range missile and nuclear weapons programs are inseparable, and that Iran’s development and testing of missiles should be subject to severe sanctions,” said Trump.
He also called on his allies to address other activities of the Iranian regime. These efforts, according to Trump, should include cutting off funding to the IRGC, and the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in its entirety.
“They should not do business with groups that enrich Iran’s dictatorship or fund the [IRGC] and its terrorist proxies,” said Trump. “Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance. In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately. No one should doubt my word. I said I would not certify the nuclear deal—and I did not. I will also follow through on this pledge.”
The Trump administration has thrown down the gauntlet. Now it is time to see if his ties with Europe are strong enough for them to follow through in crafting the agreement that President Trump wants.