Nikki Haley: US to ‘stay’ in Iran nuke deal, aim to ‘make it better’
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Nikki Haley: US to ‘stay’ in Iran nuke deal, aim to ‘make it better’

US ambassador to UN says decertification of agreement is meant to make Iran more accountable

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a news briefing at the White House, in Washington, September 15, 2017. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a news briefing at the White House, in Washington, September 15, 2017. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Sunday that the US would “stay” in the Iranian nuclear agreement, but “aim to make it better.”

Her comments came two days after US President Donald Trump announced that he would not recertify the landmark 2015 agreement to Congress and would roll out a more hawkish approach toward Tehran.

“I think right now you are going to see us stay in the deal,” Haley said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“What we hope is that we can improve the situation,” she added. “And that’s the goal. So I think right now, we’re in the deal to see how we can make it better. And that’s the goal. It’s not that we’re getting out of the deal. We’re just trying to make the situation better so that the American people feel safer,” she said.

“What we’re trying to say is, ‘Look, the agreement was an incentive. The agreement was for you to stop doing certain things,'” Haley said in reference to Iran. “You haven’t stopped doing certain things. So what do we do to make Iran more accountable so that they do?”

Trump, Haley said, will be working “very closely with Congress to try and come up with something that is more proportionate.”

Haley is said to have been a vocal proponent of decertification and played an important role in the US’s new approach toward Iran. A Politico report over the weekend called her “Trump’s Iran whisperer” and said she “paved the way for decertification as other Cabinet members urged caution.”

In a much-anticipated speech on Friday, Trump said he would not recertify the Iranian nuclear deal, while not withdrawing from the pact — signed by the P5+1 powers and Iran in 2015 — and was launching a tougher strategy to check Iran’s “fanatical regime.”

He warned that the deal could be terminated at any time.

“We cannot and will not make this certification,” he said. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”

And, outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter Tehran’s “aggression” in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program.

Trump said the agreement, which defenders say was only ever meant to curtail Iran’s nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, had failed to address Iranian subversion in its region and its illegal missile program.

The US president said he supports efforts in Congress to work on new measures to address these threats without immediately torpedoing the broader deal.

“However, in the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said, in a televised address from the Diplomatic Room of the White House. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time,” he warned.

He added later, speaking of Congress, “They may come back with something that’s very satisfactory to me, and if they don’t, within a very short period of time, I’ll terminate the deal.”

Trump announced targeted sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, a key instrument of Tehran’s military and foreign policy that the president described as “the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

He said he is authorizing the US Treasury Department to “further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

But the US leader backed away from designating the Guards Corps as a terror group, a move that would have triggered a slew of sanctions and almost certain Iranian retribution.

Simultaneously, the US Treasury said it had taken action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guards under a 2001 executive order to hit sources of terror funding and added four companies that allegedly support the group to its sanctions list.

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