US President Donald Trump has refused to certify the international nuclear agreement with Iran and warned he might ultimately terminate it, in defiance of other world powers and undermining a landmark victory of multilateral diplomacy.
Speaking from the White House on Friday, Trump said he will choose not to certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Trump’s speech signaled a major shift in US policy and detailed a more confrontational stance toward Iran over its civilian nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Trump also said his goal is to ensure Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon.
“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 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently reported that Iran is complying with the agreement.
Trump is required by law to certify every 90 days whether or not Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he argues that Iran is not in compliance, that could cause an American withdrawal from the international pact.
While Trump did not pull Washington out of the nuclear deal, he gave the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran that were lifted under the pact.
Reimposing sanctions would put the US at odds with other signatories of the accord such as the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany, as well as the European Union.
Trump also announced sanctions on the IRGC, which he accused of destabilizing the Middle East and threatening American interests in the region.
“I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement earlier Friday that the Iranian Armed Forces, including the IRGC, are the symbol of power and defenders of security and are supported by the Iranian government and nation.
The statement, which came a few hours before Trump’s speech, emphasized that Iran’s core policy is to support regional peace and stability and confront any destabilizing and divisive measures aimed at creating tensions and conflicts in the region.
According to the statement, the US support for Israel and other “repressive” regimes in the region over the recent decades has caused war and conflicts on one hand and created “the ominous phenomenon of terrorism” on the other.
In his remarks, the US president also accused Iran of supporting the “atrocities” of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and said Tehran “condoned” Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people.
Assad has previously stated that a recent suspected chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Shaykhun town was part of a Western scenario to demonize the incumbent Damascus government.
Iran has been providing military advisers on the request of the Syrian government, helping turn around the battle which has been going on for more than six years now.
Trump’s threat to terminate the nuclear deal comes as the US has a history of quitting international pacts and organizations.
This is not the first time that the international community witnesses efforts by the Trump administration to renege on a multilateral agreement.
Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement in June and has ordered the US to withdraw from UNESCO next year.
The US decisions to abandon multilateral agreements is not limited to the Trump administration. In 2002, the administration of former US President George W. Bush withdrew from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM), which it had signed with the Soviet Union in 1972.