Key US lawmakers have predicted that President Donald Trump will pull the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) later this spring.
Although there is an appetite on Capitol Hill and within Trump’s own national security team to save the accord, members of Congress say they lack the immediate legislative options to save it from Trump’s axe, the Daily Beast reported.
The president’s antipathy toward the deal struck by his predecessor is well established, and he has privately vented about a law that requires him to certify every few months that Iran remains in compliance with the terms of the deal.
The next deadline to waive nuclear-related sanctions is May 12. And Trump has hinted, if not outwardly threatened, that he will use that moment to effectively pull the US out of the agreement unless European allies agree to stricter terms.
“There will be no congressional action until there’s a framework (agreed to with the Europeans),” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the foreign relations panel, told The Daily Beast. “We’ve let the White House know clearly that the onus is on them to negotiate a framework. If they get a framework done, then we’ll look at domestic language.”
The retiring senator predicted that the European partners—consisting of France, Germany and the United Kingdom—could eventually give up major concessions and move closer to the Trump administration’s position on the deal as the deadline approaches.
In separate comments on Wednesday, a US State Department official said while Washington has had constructive talks about the Iran nuclear deal with Britain, France and Germany, it is also making contingency plans should they fail.
“We have had constructive talks with the Europeans toward a supplemental agreement but I can’t predict whether we will reach an agreement with them or not,” Brian Hook, the State Department policy planning director, told reporters.
“We are engaged in contingency planning because it would not be responsible not to,” said Hook, the lead US negotiator in the talks with the Europeans. “We are kind of dual tracking this.”
Hook held talks with the three European powers in Berlin on Thursday followed by wider talks on Friday in Vienna with a group that tracks the implementation of the nuclear deal, according to Reuters.
The nuclear agreement between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) was reached in July 2015 and came into force in January 2016.
Ever since the deal took effect, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA in all quarterly reports.