The US president is considering not confirming the nuclear deal in Congress.
Donald Trump wants to test his "art of the deal" on a negotiator more oriental than him. Held to confirm every three months in Congress that Iran respects its share of the nuclear agreement reached in July 2015, the US President is about to denounce it, to better "fix".
With the October 15 deadline approaching, the National Security Council of the White House has come out in favor of a maneuver supposed to reconcile Trump's repeated rejection of the "worst deal ever", which he blames his predecessor , and the interest of the United States to keep it as it is. To do this, he is preparing to "decertify" in front of elected officials, without pushing them to reimpose the sanctions that had been lifted. Congress has 60 days to decide. This period would be used to put pressure on Tehran and the co-signatories of the agreement (Germany, China, France, United Kingdom, Russia) to undertake to improve or complete it.
Washington wants to remedy the "twilight clause", which lifts some constraints after 2025, and force Tehran to open military bases to inspections of the nuclear agency (IAEA). The Trump Administration also insists on imposing new restrictions on Iran's "destabilizing activities" in the Middle East. In particular are targeted its ballistic missile program and its regional expansionism, through its financial and military support to Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, Yemeni Houthi, Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas. The Pentagon has already decided to retaliate "more vigorously" with the Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz. The CIA has handed over the Iranian case to Michael D'Andrea, former head of bin Laden huntings and drone strikes, heralding an increase in clandestine operations.
The US president rallied Paris and London to his goal, but not to his method. During their meeting at the UN, Emmanuel Macron stressed the risk of coming out of the agreement without an alternative solution. A European diplomat warns that "the threat of American sticks has no chance to walk with Tehran if we do not add carrots."
Trump's contortionist strategy is subject to several unknowns, including the premise that the agreement will survive its denunciation. It also bets that Washington will not be excluded from the game by the other signatories, because of its threat to restore sanctions. It finally calculates that Tehran will yield to the pressure. This presupposes a united front, not only allies, but the Administration and the Congress. However, hearing in the Senate on Wednesday, General Joseph Dunford, Chief of Staff, said that "Iran has not materially broken" its commitments and Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke out for "stay in the agreement". At the Capitol, several Republican senators opposed to the deal at its signing wish to preserve it today.
In the upcoming showdown, the military threat is already implicit. Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas close to Trump, told the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday: "There is no reason not to give diplomacy a little time." Before saying, " There are many precedents of calibrated strikes to achieve our goals. "