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Donald Trump to criticise Iran nuclear deal but is not expected to end it

World News | Published:

The president faces a Sunday deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is complying with the accord put together by the Obama administration.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump will say on Friday the Iran nuclear deal is no longer in US national security interests, but he will not withdraw from the 2015 international accord or immediately re-impose sanctions against Tehran, according to officials.

Mr Trump’s speech from the White House will outline specific faults he finds in the pact but will also focus on an array of Iran’s troubling non-nuclear activities, four officials and advisers said.

Those include Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, support for Syrian president Bashar Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and other groups that destabilise the region, including in Yemen.

Hassan Rouhani
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said earlier this week that If the US backs out of the nuclear deal, “it won’t be our failure at all, but a failure for the other side”. (Iranian Presidency Office/ AP)

Under US law, Mr Trump faces a Sunday deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is complying with the accord that was painstakingly negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration and determine if it remains a national security priority.

Although Mr Trump will allow that Iran is living up to the letter of the agreement, he will make the case that the deal is fatally flawed and that its non-nuclear behaviour violates the spirit of the regional stability it was intended to encourage, the officials said.

The officials said Mr Trump will not call for a re-imposition of nuclear sanctions on Tehran.

He will instead urge politicians to codify tough new requirements for Tehran to continue to benefit from the sanctions relief that it won in exchange for curbing its atomic programme.

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And he will announce his long-anticipated intent to impose sanctions on portions of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps by designating them a terrorist organisation under an existing executive order, according to the officials and advisers.

In addition, Mr Trump will ask Congress to amend or replace outright the legislation that currently requires him to certify Iranian compliance every 90 days.

Officials have said that Mr Trump hates the requirement more than the nuclear deal itself because it forces him to take a position every three months on what he has denounced as the worst deal in American history.

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That frequency has also irritated aides who have complained that they are spending inordinate amounts of time on certification at the expense of other issues.

John Kelly
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly confirmed the president would announce the results of his Iran policy review on Friday (Susan Walsh/AP)

At the White House, Mr Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, confirmed the president would announce the results of his Iran policy review on Friday but declined to offer any detail.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was calling foreign minister colleagues from the other parties to the deal to brief them on what to expect, the State Department said.

But in a preview of Mr Trump’s announcement, CIA director Mike Pompeo blasted Iran during a speech at the University of Texas, calling Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Revolutionary Guard “cudgels of a despotic theocracy”.

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