US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley sharply condemned the 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program, saying the deal is riddled with flaws and does in little to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, but downplayed chances the US may pull out of the pact.
In a speech Tuesday at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, Haley pointed to Iranian violations of the “very flawed and very limited agreement.” But she indicated the US would likely not pull out of the accord, even if it declares Iran to be non-compliant.
“The Iran deal has so many flaws that it’s tempting to leave it. But, the deal was constructed in a way that makes leaving it less attractive,” she said.
While noting that proponents of the accord maintain that “as long as Iran is meeting the limits on enriched uranium and centrifuges, then it’s complying with the deal,” Haley said the Iranian regime has on numerous occasions violated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the agreement, by possessing larger than allowed stocks of heavy water used in plutonium production and refusing to allow inspectors from the UN’s nuclear watchdog to inspect military sites believed to be tied to Iran’s nuclear program.
Haley’s talk came amid speculation that US President Donald Trump would delcare Iran non-compliant with the deal in October, which could pave the way for the US to pull out of the JCPOA. Haley herself recently met with UN atomic watchdog head Yukiya Amano to discuss concerns over the deal.
Haley said the US may declare Iran to be in violation of the nuclear accord under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 without having to pull out of the deal, which she said allows the US to consider the “whole jigsaw puzzle” of Iran’s “long history of aggression” and not only “the Iranian regime’s technical violations of the JCPOA.”
While not explicitly calling for US President Donald Trump to declare Iran in violation of the deal, Haley said pronouncing the Islamic Republic to not be in compliance with the agreement under the Iran review act would allow the US to better address “the big picture” of Iran’s behavior.
In July, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress that Tehran was abiding by the terms of the pact, although Trump later said Iran is not in compliance with the deal and that he did not suspect he would again declare Iran to be abiding by the accord in October, the next time his administration must certify to Congress the Iranians are adhering to the agreement.
Criticizing the Obama administration’s failure to penalize the Iranian regime for its violations of the JCPOA, Haley lamented the agreement’s penalty stipulations, saying that rather than preserving the deal they allow Iran to flaunt its provisions without fear of retribution.
“Whether an Iranian violation is big or small – whether it is deemed to be material or non-material –the deal provides for only one penalty. That penalty is the re-imposition of sanctions,” she said. “And if sanctions are re-imposed, Iran is then freed from all the commitments it made.”
“Think about that. There is an absurdly circular logic to enforcement of this deal. Penalizing its violations don’t make the deal stronger, they blow it up,” she added.
“Iran’s leaders know this. They are counting on the world brushing off relatively minor infractions, or even relatively major ones. They are counting on the United States and the other parties to the agreement being so invested in its success that they overlook Iranian cheating.”
Haley said this failure to penalize Iran has increased the danger posed by the Iranian nuclear program.
“It is this unwillingness to challenge Iranian behavior, for fear of damaging the nuclear agreement, that gets to the heart of the threat the deal poses to our national security,” she said.
Echoing Israeli complaints over the deal, Haley also criticized the deal for drawing “an artificial line between the Iranian regime’s nuclear development and the rest of its lawless behavior,” saying Iran has continued to develop ballistic missiles and support terror groups despite UN sanctions on its “non-nuclear” activity as many UN “member states choose to ignore blatant violations of the UN’s own resolutions.”
In her speech, Haley also strongly criticized Iran’s support for the Hezbollah terror group Iranian Revolution Guard Corps involvement in a long list of terror attacks against US targets.
She also said questioned the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic as a political entity, saying the “Islamic Republic of Iran was born in an act of international lawbreaking” for the 1979 takeover of the US embassy and Tehran and subsequent holding of the American diplomatic staff as hostages.