The fate of the Iran nuclear deal is in question, prompting senior White House officials and congressional leadership to make appeals to President Donald J. Trump, who must waive key sanctions on the Islamic Republic ahead of a weekend deadline in order to salvage it.
According to reports, Trump is opposed saving the deal, while senior national security officials are working to convince him that waiving the sanctions is the best course of action.
According to The Washington Free Beacon:
On the congressional front, Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) is said to be working with Senate Democrats on new legislation to hold Iran accountable for its ongoing ballistic missile construction and other rogue activities.
That bill, sources said, is failing to gain traction among Republicans due to what many described as a range of flaws that mainly serve to lock in the Iranian nuclear deal and prevent Trump from abandoning it.
The latest efforts involve a legislative push that would preserve the nuclear deal not only in the short term, but limit the ability of Trump and future presidents to ever exit the deal.
“It’s pretty clear the people around the president are trying to sell him an Iranian Potemkin village of sorts,” said one source close to both the White House and congressional negotiations on the matter. “There is no legislation that would fix the deal on the table, only legislation that would lock in the deal and even make it worse on issues like missiles.”
As tension and discontent grows on the issue, some Republicans have proposed alternative plans that they believe would crack down on Iran’s intransigent behavior and provide Trump with a pathway to abandon the deal and reimpose all sanctions on Iran.
“U.S.-Iran policy is facing a pivotal moment and U.S. policymakers must have a laser-like focus on our objectives to permanently prevent Iran from a nuclear weapons capability, to combat Iran’s support for terrorism and to support those Iranian people in the streets protesting for a freer, more hopeful future,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), the author of his own legislation to crack down more forcefully on Iran, told the Free Beacon.
“Congress’ main goal currently is to fix the key flaws of the Iran nuclear deal; to that end, I’m drafting legislation to do so and, as we work on this matter, we must be dedicated to permanently preventing, not just delaying, Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state,” Roskam said, criticizing what he described as weaker efforts being pushed by his colleagues.
“We should not settle for an inadequate legislative solution that fails to achieve our key objectives just for the sake of passing something,” Roskam said. “If we can’t improve it, we must not be afraid of walking away from this flawed nuclear deal.”
Another source involved in the negotiations told the Free Beacon that the House’s version of new legislation exposes key weaknesses with the effort spearheaded by Corker and [Sen. Ben Cardin (D. Md.)].
The legislation being pushed by Corker, Cardin, and other allies is being billed as a legislative fix to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, or INARA, which has required the president to publicly certify Iran as in compliance with the deal every 90 days.
That requirement has caused increasing friction in the White House as senior national security officials and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson work to convince an increasingly frustrated Trump that he preserve a deal the president believes is flawed, sources said.
The White House is seeking to strip the 90-day recertification requirement from any new piece of legislation, according to those familiar with the negotiations.