In new strategy, Trump to focus on Iran’s non-nuclear provocations
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In new strategy, Trump to focus on Iran’s non-nuclear provocations

Hours before US president is expected to decertify the nuclear deal, White House says it will work to deny Tehran and IRGC funding for their malign activities

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform inside a hangar at the Harrisburg International Airport on October 11, 2017 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)
US President Donald Trump speaks on tax reform inside a hangar at the Harrisburg International Airport on October 11, 2017 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

WASHINGTON — Hours before US President Donald Trump is set to give a major address on Iran — in which he’s expected to decertify the landmark nuclear pact — the White House unveiled its “new strategy” for confronting Tehran on Friday morning, which includes more aggressive measures targeting Iran’s actions outside the nuclear realm.

Without mentioning the US president’s plans vis-a-vis certifying whether Iran is complying with the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the administration detailed the cornerstones of its fresh approach in a fact sheet.

Referring to the Obama administration as “myopic” on Iran — a common critique from Trump that his predecessor was too singularly focused on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions — the United States now aims to put more of an emphasis on the rogue regime’s non-nuclear provocations.

“We will work to deny the Iranian regime and especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) funding for its malign activities, and oppose IRGC activities that extort the wealth of the Iranian people,” the White House fact sheet said.

It will focus on neutralizing Iran’s “destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants,” the guidelines said.

That includes addressing the country’s ongoing development and testing of ballistic missiles, and galvanizing the world to counter Iran’s human rights violations and unjust detainment of foreign citizens.

“More importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon,” the policy sheet further said.

The White House signaled the president does not intend to abrogate the accord. Citing a “disturbing pattern of behavior” from Iran, including “seeking to exploit loopholes and test the international community’s resolve,” the paper said: “The deal must be strictly enforced.”

One specific change to the JCPOA the White House advocated is allowing International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to gain access to Iran’s military sites. Iran has forcefully rejected any suggestion of international oversight of its facilities.

Trump is set to give a speech Friday afternoon laying out his broad Iran strategy going forward. He is expected to announce that he will be refusing to certify the nuclear deal.

Under an agreement former President Barack Obama forged with Congress in 2015, called the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the White House is mandated to report to Capitol Hill every 90 days on whether Tehran is honoring its commitments in the international pact.

Decertification would not actually tear up the deal. But it would force Congress to start a 60-day review period to decide whether to re-impose sanctions that were in place before the deal was implemented.

Critics of decertification have stressed that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and top US officials have all said Iran is not violating the accord.

Just last week the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, said that “Iran is not in material breach of the agreement” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for his part, said that it is in “technical compliance.”

White House officials, however, have been telling reporters that while Iran is not in material breach of the agreement, it is a fundamentally flawed deal that is easy to work around and needs to be fixed.

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