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US congressional leaders on Iran nuclear deal — Factbox

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Eleena Tovar | 14 Octubre, 2017, 03:53

Trump's decision Friday to "decertify" the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal presents a stark example. Tillerson, perhaps, belongs in a third category - like Trump, an outsider, as one new to government after a career in business, but also with an "establishment" seal of approval. Instead, the president is urging lawmakers to pass a new law, spelling out conditions under which sanctions could be re-imposed. If lawmakers do nothing, the deal remains in place. He noted that U.S. participation in the deal "can be canceled by me as president at any time".

President Trump said Iran is not living up to the "spirit" of the nuclear deal in his announcement that the U.S. will refuse to recertify the agreement.

"We cannot and will not make this certification", he said.

Mr Trump recounted a chronoligical timeline of hostility and "aggression" from Tehran toward the US and regionally since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

"We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout", Trump said.

The President hopes to de-emphasize the nuclear agreement in US dealings with Iran, placing greater importance on curtailing its destabilizing efforts in the region, which extend from Yemen to Syria to Saudi Arabia. Decertification is allowed under the multinational accord, but imposing sanctions is not.

There was no immediate reaction from China, though Alexei Pushkov, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker in the upper house of the Russian parliament, said neither Moscow nor Beijing backed Trump's stance. He suggested the president's decision is based on an assessment of Iran's overall conduct, balanced against the sanctions relief granted by the agreement.

In today's statement, Riyadh said it would continue working with the United States and other world powers to "deal with the dangers represented by Iran's policy on all levels".

"This is the pathway we think provides us the best platform from which to attempt to fix this deal", Tillerson said.

But even before the nuclear deal, Iran had cut budget expenditures and fixed its balance of payments. Secretary Tillerson has denied the threat, but pointedly did not deny the slur on Trump's intelligence (although his State Department spokeswoman did deny it).

"The deal and the status quo are most certainly not in our vital national security interests", Cotton told the Council on Foreign Relations. "And they'll know that when the president declines to certify the deal, and not before".

When the deal was struck, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) that gave US lawmakers a say in managing the accord.

Ben Rhodes, former adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted Friday that "violating the Iran Deal at a time when Iran is complying" is "provoking crisis". Instead, he will turn to Congress to decide whether to re-impose sanctions on Iran by not re-certifying Tehran's compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Diplomats have expressed worry that tweaking INARA could jeopardize the agreement, and warned that the US unilaterally abolishing the "sunset" would make it harder to negotiate with allies that back the existing agreement. And so for the nation, this is a signal moment.

"The core of his foreign policy is peace and stability in Western Europe, Asia, and the Middle East", he adds, citing Trump's continuing commitment to NATO as one example. "It's Trump versus everybody on his team". "I don't want to get ahead of the president", he said last week.

"It's the first step toward withdrawing from the agreement keeping Iran from building the bomb", he added.

The day after the nuclear deal was implemented, the US and Iran announced they had settled the claim over the 1970s military equipment order, with the US agreeing to pay the 400 million dollars principal along with 1.3 billion dollars (£97m) in interest.

"If there is a division between Trump and his cabinet on foreign policy, it only reflects longstanding fissures within the GOP on the general subject", says historian David Pietrusza. "This is a bit of a complicated issue". Administration officials say its unlikely the current agreement can be reopened, given resistance from European partners and Iran's government.

Trump, however, got support from Israel and Saudi Arabia. "Do you think it's still working?"

The three leaders also said they shared US concerns over Iran's ballistic missile program and regional destabilising activities and were ready to work with Washington to address those concerns. He has twice "certified" the deal, but angrily told his top advisers that he would do so no longer, fearing it appeared he was backing out of his pledge.

There are some signs that Iran is feeling the pressure from the president's decision.