London, 30 Oct - A little over two weeks ago, Donald Trump decertified Iranian compliance with the 2015 Nuclear Deal, which was supposed to impose strict limits on the rogue state’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Now Congress must decide whether or not to reimpose sanctions waived under the nuclear deal by mid-December.
The hope for the deal, signed by the permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, UK, Russia, France and China) plus Germany, were high. Iran would give up its nuclear programme in order to obtain sanctions relief and then be slowly convinced through interaction with other countries to dispose of its other troubling behaviours, like support for terrorism and destabilisation of fellow nation states.
Unfortunately, the deal was flawed.
The Iranian Regime was supposed to allow international inspectors to access their sites in order to verify compliance but they blockaded the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors at every turn.
It also allowed over $1.5 billion in frozen assets to be transferred to the Iranian Regime, which they then used for military expansion and international armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Thankfully, a clause in the nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), for the US required the President to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal to Congress every 90 days and it is this power that Trump exercised in mid-October.
Trump, a vocal critic of the deal on his campaign trail, said that Iran was violating the “spirit” of the deal.
Although he had twice already this year certified Iran as compliant, many knew that it would not happen a third time as evidenced by the heated war of words between Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York in September.
There Rouhani said that Trump was looking for an excuse to pull out of the deal, while Trump cited numerous violations of the deal by Iran.
It didn’t help that during the UNGA Iran also reported launching a new ballistic missile that can carry multiple warheads and can travel up to 2,000 kilometres.
If Congress does reimpose all economic sanctions against Iran, it would block the Iranian Regime from accessing most international trade and finance including billions of dollars in oil revenue and assets.
Many analysts predict a bleak future for Iran under harsh economic sanctions, in the same way that North Korea is financially restricted by international sanctions.
The President of Facts Global Energy (FGE) consultancy, Jeff Brown, said that these sanctions could work even if the US had to go it alone.
He said that during the previous sanctions period, the US cut off roughly one million barrels per day of crude oil supplies and most of Iran’s oil trade finance.
It is unlikely that Trump’s decertification will affect the Regime in the weeks to come but further down the road, they will face big problems with investment and technologies and service providers.