Cariciature via DonkeyHotey and Flickr Creative Commons

Cariciature via DonkeyHotey and Flickr Creative Commons

It is no secret that when the October date rolls around for President Trump to certify to Congress that Iran is in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal. Trump, it is known, has certified the deal twice only after voicing strenuous objections to the deal. Nikki Haley telegraphed what this will look like.

She zeroed in on two “pillars” that Iran hawks believe already give Trump all the justification he needs to de-certify Iran’s compliance:

  1. “National security interest”: Haley points out that the Corker-Cardin law — the legislation that Congress overwhelmingly passed to review the Iran deal — requires that the president certify every 90 days that the Iran deal is vital to the national security interests of the United States. Trump could decertify Iran on those grounds alone.
  2. UN Security Council Resolution 2231: “They [Iran] are clearly acting in defiance of UN Resolution 2231 by developing missile technology capable of deploying nuclear warheads.” She also mentioned “devastating evidence of Iranian violations,” including “proven arms smuggling….violations of travel bans…ongoing support for terrorism.” (Between the lines: Corker-Cardin requires that the president certify that “Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements.” … Sources who worked on the bill consider UNSCR 2231 a “related” agreement.)

Why this matters: Trump thinks the Iran deal is the worst deal in history and he was very reluctant to re-certify Iran’s compliance. He’s re-certified twice, against his instincts, but sources close to Trump believe his national security and foreign policy advisers will have an uphill battle to get him to re-certify Iran’s compliance for a third time next month. What Haley outlines would be a classic Trump play: putting the onus back on Congress.

It’s telling that in her speech today, Haley describes what de-certification would look like in practice:

  • “If the President chooses not to certify Iranian compliance, that does not mean the United States is withdrawing from the JCPOA,” she says. … “What happens next is significantly in Congress’s hands.”
  • “Under the law, Congress then has sixty days to consider whether to re-impose sanctions on Iran…During that time, Congress could take the opportunity to debate Iran’s support for terrorism, its past nuclear activity, and its massive human rights violations, all of which are called for in Corker-Cardin.
  • “Congress could debate whether the nuclear deal is in fact too big to fail,” she adds. “We should welcome a debate over whether the JCPOA is in U.S. national security interests.”

In short, it will be up to the Congress to decide to leave the Iran Nuclear Giveaway if Trump refuses to certify it.

This has knickers in a tight, moist little knot among the members of the famous Ben Rhodes Echo Chamber that shamelessly lied to the nation about how flawed this agreement is..

The New York Times: A Devious Threat to a Nuclear Deal.

Mr. Trump, however, has reportedly kept pushing his advisers to find a way out, and Ms. Haley appears to have answered the call. The essence of her case, presented Tuesday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, is that technical compliance with the nuclear-related commitments is not sufficient and that the president “has grounds” to declare that Iran is not fulfilling the agreement because of other destabilizing or objectionable behavior, like its ballistic missile tests, support for Hezbollah and hostility toward the United States.

“We must consider the whole jigsaw puzzle,” she said, “not just one of its pieces.”

She’s wrong. While Iran indeed is engaging in some very worrisome pursuits, the deal is confined to the nuclear program. As long as Tehran is staying within those limits, Mr. Trump has no reason not to certify compliance. The United States and its partners need to find other ways, including sanctions already in place and dialogue, to mitigate Iran’s other behavior. In the national interest, Washington has often held its nose and dealt with aggressive or unsavory governments, among them the Soviet Union, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt.

The Boston Globe: Donald Trump’s cynical ploy on Iran.

Actually, though there has been a minor matter or two, “there is no credible allegation that they are not now in compliance with the central points of the agreement,” notes William Tobey, former deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, and now a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a Harvard Kennedy School think tank.

Trump sidesteps that reality by contending that Iran isn’t abiding by “the spirit of the agreement.” Actually, there is no larger spirit of the agreement. This was a hard-nosed transactional pact, with concrete deadlines and actions, says Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

Unfortunately, facts are pretty stubborn things.

First, the law implementing the Iran deal very clearly states that if the president does not certify the deal, then it is kicked back to Congress. That isn’t passing the buck or a cynical ploy that is the law. Secondly, Nikki Haley is exactly right and the New York Times editorial board and the Boston Globe columnist are engaging in deception and propaganda on the part of Iran and Iran’s lackies who were in the Obama admninistration (I’m looking squarely at Ben Rhodes who acted as though he was a paid agent for the Tehran regime while on the National Security Council).

Let’s address the easy one first, the notion that “spirit” of the JCPOA is irrelevant. This is from Paragraph 28 of the JCPOA text:

The E3/EU+3 and Iran commit to implement this JCPOA in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere, based on mutual respect, and to refrain from any action inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of this JCPOA that would undermine its successful implementation.

On the violation of “spirit and intent” side of the ledger, you have Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors into military nuclear research facilities and Iran’s persistence in developing ballistic missiles.

To fully appreciate Nikki Haley’s points and to realize the depth of the deception the New York Times is trying to pull, you need only go to the Corker-Cardin Nuclear Surrender Act to see what the president must certify:

(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;
(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, 5 if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert action, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and
(iv) suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and vital to the national security interests of the United States; and if the President determines he is able to make the certification described in subparagraph (A), make such certification to the appropriate congressional committees and leadership.

Item (i) is what Haley is talking about when she says:

…The second pillar directly involves the United Nations. When the nuclear agreement was signed, the Obama Administration took Iran’s non-nuclear activity – the missile development, the arms smuggling, the terrorism, the support for murderous regimes – and rolled it up into UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

Critically, included in this supposed “non-nuclear” activity is the IRGC’s ongoing development of ballistic missile technology. You can call it “non-nuclear” all you want – missile technology cannot be separated from pursuit of a nuclear weapon. North Korea is showing the world that right now. Every six months, the UN Secretary-General reports to the Security Council on the Iranian regime’s compliance with this so-called “non-nuclear” resolution. Each report is filled with devastating evidence of Iranian violations. Proven arms smuggling. Violations of travel bans. Ongoing support for terrorism. Stoking of regional conflicts. The Secretary-General’s report also includes ample evidence of ballistic missile technology and launches. The regime has engaged in such launches repeatedly, including in July of this year when it launched a rocket into space that intelligence experts say can be used to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. They are clearly acting in defiance of UN Resolution 2231 by developing missile technology capable of deploying nuclear warheads. Unfortunately, as happens all too often at the UN, many Member States choose to ignore blatant violations of the UN’s own resolutions.

The “related technical and additional agreements” mentioned in the JCPOA are other UN Security Council Resolutions directed at Iran which it blithely ignores: ballistic missiles, terrorism, supplying arms to friendly insurgencies, etc.

Given that behavior and their role in fomenting rebellion in Yemen and arming Lebanese Hezbollah for a war against Israel, it is difficult to see how this agreement works to our national interests.

In the end, the Times and Globe may be proven correct. It is entirely possible that the Congress, particularly the Senate, will decide to go along with this charade for the sake of comity or whatever. But that is a decision that Congress will have made and will have to live with. There is more than ample evidence to refuse to certify the Iran nuclear deal based on the text of the agreement itself.