According to reports, President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will launch a concerted assault at the United Nations to speak against the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Reportedly, the US and Israeli leaders are expected to meet in New York on Monday.
On Tuesday, the two leaders will speak at the UN general assembly, giving speeches about the threat Iran poses to the stability and security of the Middle East. According to the Guardian, the two men are united in their stances on multiple issues, including their unease about the 2015 agreement struck between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany.
Iran agreed that it would cut back on its nuclear development efforts in exchange for relief from most sanctions. The deal caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.
While the U.S. government, under former President Barack Hussein Obama, said it would take twelve-months for Iran to “gather enough fissile material to build a weapon,” Iran says it would only need a matter of days.
The 2015 deal was made to put monitoring in place before Iran could reduce its “breakout time,” the time it would take them to gather enough fissile material. The Obama administration said that before the deal, the breakout time was “only two to three months.”
“Today, because of the Iran deal, it would take Iran 12 months or more,” the Obama administration said in January 2016. “And with the unprecedented monitoring and access this deal puts in place, if Iran tries, we will know and sanctions will snap back into place.”
In late August, Iran’s atomic chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, sent a warning to the United States, stating, “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”
Uranium enriched to 20 percent and above can be used in nuclear bombs.
United in their concern over Iran’s expansive role in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu also agree that the 2015 deal was a bad one.
On a visit to Buenos Aires on Tuesday, the Netanyahu reportedly said: “Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it – or cancel it.”
According to the Guardian, President Trump has “signaled his intention to withdraw certification of the Iran deal in a report the state department is due to submit to Congress by 15 October.” Doing so would not end of the agreement directly; however, it would provide a way for the US to impose new sanctions, violating the deal and potentially leading to its undoing.
The option is reportedly opposed by both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who don’t want the US to provoke Iran.
Netanyahu is supported in his position by his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, but not backed by the Israeli defense and intelligence establishment, reportedly. They feel that Iran should be left alone, as long as they are abiding by the agreement and its limits on nuclear activities.
The two leaders also reportedly agree about their disapproval of the Paris climate accords. While global action to combat climate change is a priority at the UN meeting, President Trump may not be focused on the issue in his UN speech. President Trump announced that the US would not participate in the accords, unless a new deal, that would be better for Americans, could be agreed upon.
However, President Trump’s speech will focus on the Iran deal. According to US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, one of his avenues of attack will be to argue that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, is not being assertive enough during inspections in Iran.
“Netanyahu is likely to supply ammunition for that approach,” the Guardian writes. According to their report, Israeli officials told Israeli news organization Haaretz that the IAEA had been prevented in Iran’s capital of Tehran from “visiting one site and had not asked to inspect others where suspected nuclear weapons research was going on, according to intelligence handed to the agency (presumably by Israel, though the report does not say that specifically).”
The US could take a tougher line with Iran in other areas, like Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, while maintaining the nuclear deal. According to reports, Mattis, Tillerson and some European US allies have suggested ways to do so.
Since making Riyadh the destination of his first foreign trip as president, Trump has stuck closely to the Saudi side on its disputes with Iran and Qatar, to a degree that has frequently baffled some of his own advisers.
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Trump rips into UN during first appearance