‘Fix or cancel’: Tillerson says a change to law on Iran deal could come next week
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been meeting with congressional leaders “on a very active basis” to draw up legislation which will “fix” the Iran deal. The proposed changes will likely “strengthen the way the US enforces the agreement,” and could come as early as next week, according to the Associated Press.
Lawmakers are also considering changing the legislation so that Trump would no longer be required to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal. Another legislative proposal reportedly brought up would allow more time in between US certification deadlines. Any of these changes, however, would have to get significant support among Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
“The president said he is either going to fix it or cancel it,” Tillerson told AP. “We are in the process of trying to deliver on the promise he made to fix it.”
However, many dispute whether the deal needs “fixing” at all. Brokered and signed by the US, UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) places limitations on Iran’s controversial nuclear energy program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions on Tehran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is sticking to the agreement.
In October, Trump announced that he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, despite his administration acknowledging that Tehran was in “technical compliance” with the JCPOA. His decision came less than two weeks after top US military officials confirmed Iran’s compliance to Congress.
In response, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on Washington to honor the deal, and EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement describing the 2015 accord as vital to preventing the global spread of nuclear weapons. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel also warned of the “immediate danger of war” if the US pulled out of the deal. He added that the European Union should “tell the Americans that their behavior on the Iran issue will drive us Europeans into a common position with Russia and China against the USA.”
In accordance with a mechanism set up by the US Congress, the nuclear agreement has to be re-assessed by an American president every 90 days. With the deadline for the next certification approaching, Tillerson says that proposed changes to the legislation could salvage the deal.
Tehran says it remains committed to the agreement, despite Trump’s threats.
“We won’t be the first [to] withdraw from the deal… we will be committed to our obligations. We will not be the first who violate the agreement,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said in October. He also pointed out that Trump’s refusal to certify Tehran’s compliance despite no wrongdoing being found was in itself a violation of the JCPOA.
“Everyone says that Iran should comply with the deal, [but] the US doesn’t comply with their part of the bargain which is totally unacceptable,” said Araghchi.