The Trump administration certified that Iran is in compliance with the deal it signed with world powers to rein in its nuclear program.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., certifying the compliance with the 2015 deal, which exchanges sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program.
The State Department must update Congress on Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal every 90 days. Tuesday’s was the first update for the Trump administration.
The certification was the latest signal that President Donald Trump, who campaigned against the Iran deal and at times suggested he would scrap it, has as president adopted a more toned-down posture related to the Iranian regime.
Trump imposed sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses after Iran tested ballistic missiles earlier this year, but so had his predecessor, Barack Obama, a year earlier following a similar missile test. Trump has not otherwise been focused on Iran, although he launched a barrage of missiles at Iran’s ally, the Assad regime in Syria, after a chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held area.
Nevertheless, the letter to Ryan said Trump was ready to review the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in light of Iran’s backing for terrorism.
“Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror through many platforms and methods,” it said. Trump, the letter said, “has directed a National Security Council-led interagency revew of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
U.S. partners in the deal — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — would likely balk at linking compliance with the deal with terrorism.
The letter did not say how long the evaluation would take.
“When the interagency review is completed, the administration looks forward to working with Congress on this issue,” it said.
Last month, Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vehement opponent of the agreement, spoke about the Iran nuclear deal in a phone call.
“The two leaders spoke at length about the dangers posed by the nuclear deal with Iran and by Iran’s malevolent behavior in the region and about the need to work together to counter those dangers,” read a statement about the call from Netanyahu’s office.