Top military officials endorse staying in Iran deal, contradicting Trump

Top military officials endorse staying in Iran deal, contradicting Trump

But Cotton, who dined with Trump on Monday and said he discussed the accord with the president, called the regime's bluff and said Iran has shown throughout history it responds to USA sanctions and military force. Although congressional leaders have declined to say whether they would seek to reimpose sanctions, Republican lawmakers were united in their opposition to the deal reached by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Mattis replied in the affirmative to a question about whether it was in the US national security interest to stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - better known as the Iran deal - an worldwide agreement which restricts Iran's enrichment of uranium and its stockpiles.

Instead of certifying that Iran is meeting its technical commitments under the nuclear deal, the administration would report to Congress regularly about broader aggressive Iranian behavior - such as support for terrorism and its ballistic missile program - and what the administration is doing to counter it. Advocates of the Iran deal are saying the president should certify anyway. Last week, Dunford said the USA should uphold the agreement, in the absence of a clear Iranian breach, or risk losing credibility when it came to signing future agreements. "Without inspections, the Iran deal is an empty promise", Haley said. Trump last month called the agreement an "embarrassment" to the U.S.

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Trump must decide by October 15 whether to recertify Iran's compliance to the accord, which aimed to limit Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions related to the program.

"I declare to you the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement, but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party", he said.

Mattis said that he believes Iran is fundamentally in compliance with the nuclear deal. On the latter point, Iran thinks the JCPOA blocks the United States from taking any punitive actions against its missile program, but also insists the JCPOA does not restrain its development of long-range missiles in any way.

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"What's been in short supply is, renegotiate or not, how are the United States and the outside world going to deal with Iran once the sunset clauses come into impact", said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington public policy think tank. "However, Russia has said it does not want the IAEA to verify section T. If it sticks to that position in the Joint Commission and blocks instructions to the IAEA to proceed with verifying Section T, and the IAEA does not act on its own to verify Section T or find a work around, then the verification of the JCPOA is incomplete and the deal is not fully implemented".

"Once the deal is decertified, and Congress appears to be on the brink of reapplying sanctions, that could change not only Iran's calculus but also the European allies' calculus", said Phillips.

Tillerson's strategy centers around trying to compartmentalize the Iran deal by amending the legislation.

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Mattis said there is a difference between the nuclear agreement itself, which was negotiated between Iran and six other nations, and the domestic mandate.

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