US President Donald Trump on 13 October refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA) and implemented in 2016.  He said the new US strategy would "deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon". Trump’s administration said Iran had sought to "exploit loopholes and test the international community’s resolve" regarding JCPOA. However, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano told the agency's Board of Governors in September that Iran was implementing the deal as agreed. In response to the   Trump’s decertification decision, the IAEA confirmed that Iran has adhered to the deal.

"As I have reported to the Board of Governors, the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action are being implemented," the IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in a statement. "The IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities address all the nuclear-related elements under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. They are undertaken in an impartial and objective manner and in accordance with the modalities defined by the JCPOA and standard safeguards practice," he added.

Tehran described Trump’s decision as “delusional”, with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani adding that Washington "is more isolated than ever" and cannot change the nuclear deal unilaterally. This was echoed by the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who emphasised that no single country could cancel the multilaterally agreed deal. UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a joint statement confirming their support for the JCPOA. Russia's foreign ministry said it regretted Trump's decision but did not expect it to stop the deal being implemented. Only Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Israel supported the US announcement. Rouhani dismissed Trump’s speech in televised remarks as “nothing but baseless allegations and insults” but said that Iran would continue to abide by the agreement.

Following the decertification, the US Congress has 60 days to introduce legislation reimposing the sanctions on Iran that were eased under the agreement. However, as this would likely cause Iran to renounce the deal and all the controls placed on its nuclear development by the JCPOA, Trump asked Congress instead to amend the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He requested Congress to set specific trigger points that would automatically re-impose sanctions unless Iran meets a list of US demands, including curbs on its ballistic missile programme – which is not part of the JCPOA. The administration also wants Congress to pass new legislation targeting sunset provisions in the nuclear agreement that ease restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment after some years. European ambassadors to the USA have lobbied members of Congress in recent weeks to protect the agreement.

Date: Monday, 16 October 2017
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