Donald Trump refuses to certify that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal. Despite media pronouncements, this does not bring the Middle East closer to conflagration; it does not even mean the end of the grandiloquently named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). What it means is that Trump has put Iran on notice.

The president’s decision has been denounced by everyone, except those most likely to be affected by it. May, Merkel and Macron reaffirmed their belief in the deal, as did the EU, Russia and China. On the other hand, Israel has warmly supported Trump, and the Sunni nations of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia have welcomed Trump’s ‘firm strategy’.

The JCPOA is not a formal treaty, it is a deal patched together by the Obama administration. Obama was eager for a comprehensive agreement with Iran, but couldn’t assemble the cross-party coalition required to sign a formal treaty or rescind the existing sanctions, which remain on the books.

Instead Obama’s negotiators cobbled together a deal based on exploiting existing loopholes. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Disinvestment Act of 2010 allows the president to waive various aspects of the sanctions laws when ‘it is in the national interest of the United States’. Under the JCPOA deal Iran sanctions would be lifted if Iran agreed to cease its development of nuclear weapons.

Iran jumped on the deal. Sanctions were lifted and Iran gained access to $100billion in frozen assets. In addition, previously secret aspects of the deal have emerged showing that the Obama administration freed Iranian prisoners accused of major crimes related to the nuclear and missile programmes.

The world powers swiftly agreed to the deal, hoping that appeasement would put Iran’s nuclear weapons development on the political back-burner.

Under the deal, the White House must issue Iran sanctions waivers every 120 days as its part of the bargain. The president has an additional requirement, under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, to certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the agreement.

Trump has declared that it is ‘the worst deal ever’ and ‘an embarrassment to the United States’. His assessment is: ‘We got weak inspections in exchange for no more than a purely short-term and temporary delay in Iran’s path to nuclear weapons.’
JCPOA has severe deficiencies, the greatest of which are insufficient verification procedures. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) admits that it is unable to ensure Tehran is not engaged in ‘activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device’.

The IAEA is barred from inspecting Iran’s military sites, where this type of weapon development would be likely to take place; military sites where Tehran is known to have conducted secret nuclear weapons work.

Russia, for its own geopolitical ends, is blocking moves to broaden the IAEA’s inspection authority. Russia argues the IAEA has no authority to police the broadly worded Section T of the deal. Section T bans ‘activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device’.

Examples listed include using computer models that simulate a nuclear bomb or designing multi-point explosive detonation systems. Lacking means of rigorous inspection of such important aspects of nuclear weapons development, it would be reckless folly for the White House to rubber-stamp Iran’s compliance every 90 days.

If Trump had refused the 120-days waiver it would appear that the USA had reneged on the deal. Refusal of the 90-day certification suggests that Iran has either broken the deal or is unable to demonstrate that it is complying with it. Trump is not reneging on the deal, he is implementing it. If there is no verification there can be no certification.

This decision is prudent. Refusing to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement does not abrogate the JCPOA. But it gives Congress the opportunity to pass legislation, if it chooses, to reimpose sanctions on an accelerated schedule. More importantly, it could motivate Iran to give greater access to international inspectors before the next deadline for Trump to issue sanctions waivers. The ball is now firmly in Iran’s court.

JCPOA does not cover Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, which could become a nuclear delivery system. Publicly the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken a strong line, maintaining that its ballistic missiles are non-negotiable. Iranian diplomats, however, have reportedly made back-stairs approaches to discuss limits to the programme. The Iranians are coming to terms with the fact that in negotiations Trump is not the pushover that Obama was.

Iran’s other unacceptable behaviour is untouched by JCPOA. There are valid concerns about Iran’s continued support for terrorism and its intervention in Syria, where the civil war is drawing US-backed forces ever closer to open conflict with Iranian militias.

The public do not know how much money Iran has received under the JCPOA deal, or how much of it has been used to fund Iran’s global terrorist network. It is possible that some of it has underwritten Iran’s intervention in Syria.

June’s state-sponsored cyber-attack on British MPs’ email accounts now seems have come from Iran. Blindly trusting a nation with the track record of the Islamic Republic of Iran is no path to international security. Should we trust Iran regarding nuclear weapons development?

Decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran is a step toward fixing those severe faults in the JCPOA which leave Iran on a path to developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles whilst continuing its terrorist activities.

Obama hoped the deal would moderate Iran’s behaviour; it was no more likely to do that than his response to North Korea would stop the DPRK developing nuclear weapons. Trump has made a clear statement that the United States is no longer willing blindly to trust rogue regimes. It is now up to the terrorist theocracy in Tehran. It is time for them to wake up and smell the coffee.


  1. Trump deserves praise on a range of things. He has appointed some very sound and proactive people. Nobody is really looking at the Trump doctrine .He has joined up policies but people just want to bash him .I don’t see much praise on the BBC for the advances in Syria and the virtual defeat of the so called Caliphate .Trump said he would not discuss his plans on media and has stuck to it. But much easier to refer to him as a madman/idiot.

  2. A little history here because it’s not something which has been told especially by biased media outlets like the BBC.

    Back in the early 70s India detonated its own Smiling Buddha Nuclear device prompting Pakistan to begin its own nuclear program. Nuclear physicist A Q Khan was recruited and around 10 year later Pakistan also became a nuclear power.

    However A Q Khan decided that he wasn’t being paid enough and approached some of the world most unstable and trigger happy regimes with the technology to build their own nuclear weapons. We know of this because Gadhafi attempting to come in from the cold told us so (Until we removed him from power on Saudis orders).

    Monitoring the activities of A Q Khan intelligence operatives were able to find he had dealings in North Korea and Iran as well as Libya. This is how we know that Iran’s intentions are not peaceful and that they do in reality intend to build a nuclear device.

    A Q Khan enjoyed a life of luxury with the many millions he had made and was regarded as a hero by the people of Pakistan, until America put such pressure on the Pakistani government that they were forced to put him on trial, but only ended with a house arrest situation.

    When George Bush said that the US had invaded the wrong country following Afghanistan he hit the nail on the head for Pakistan is one of the world great exporters of terrorism.

    It was an intelligence failure of colossal proportions that we failed to see this happening and stop it. Now we are left dealing with the consequences and I really do wonder what on earth Clinton is talking about when she says Trumps Iran policy is making the world more dangerous. I strongly suspect money has changed hands given her toxic history though.

  3. Praising Trump for anything is exactly like throwing a gallon of unleaded onto a raging bonfire. It blows things up out of all proportion and is very likely to blowback and burn you.
    Better to just cheer from the side lines under an assumed “Series of Inter-tubes” nom de guerre.
    Even if he is already head and shoulders better than Barry O’blamer.
    Sits back…popcorn.

  4. Obama’s desperate desire to appease America’s enemies (matched only by his eagerness to insult America’s allies) created an insane mess. We have just seen Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter from the US Army, plead guilty to desertion and misbehaviour before the enemy. Obama, however, exchanged five leading taliban prisoners for Bergdahl, invited Bergdahl’s completely bonkers parents to the White House and sent toady-in-chief, Susan Rice, to explain to a bewildered world that Bergdahl had “served with honor and distinction”.

    Obama signalled very early on that he favoured the muslim brotherhood, placing its members in the front row for his Cairo speech in 2009, as well as seeding both its activists and its ideology throughout his administration. Hillary Clinton’s sidekick, Huma Abedin, is very close to the muslim brotherhood. Obama and Clinton welcomed the so-called “Arab Spring”, but never had a clue how to respond to it, so Washington never had any coherent policy on the chaos in Libya, on the military re-capture of power in Egypt, on the civil war in Yemen, or on the eruption of multi-factional warfare in Syria, including the rise of isis.

    The birth of the self-styled caliphate was directly Obama’s fault. Its predecessor, a version of al-qaeda, had killed many people, but had been virtually wiped out, when Obama dogmatically withdrew US forces from Iraq and left a well-equipped but poorly prepared Iraqi military to cope. In the vacuum, isis sprang up. As a regional power, it seems a spent force now, but it controlled oil wells for several years and its survivors probably have serious money hidden away, to finance future mayhem.

    Assisted by the largesse made available by the ludicrous JCPOA, Iran has been able to make huge inroads into both Iraq and Syria. While it would be nice to think that hizbollah has been bled white by its involvement in the Syrian civil war, there does not, in fact, yet seem to be a particular shortage of idiots in Lebanon prepared to act as Tehran’s myrmidons. With the connivance of Moscow and Ankara, Iran may well soon control territory all the way to Golan and, indeed, the Mediterranean coast. No brake has seriously been applied to Iranian nuclear ambitions. Development of ballistic missiles continues in Iran, too, and there isn’t a friendly use for those. The idea that Obama’s dishonest deal did anything at all to make the world safer is the opposite of the truth.

    • “when Obama dogmatically withdrew US forces from Iraq…” the US electorate wanted him to do….

      • The US electorate refers to it as a “bug out”. If you don’t know, it’s our military’s term for running away in combat. Were we tired of Iraq? Yeah, but hardly anybody thought running away was the answer. It wouldn’t have been that hard to dictate a reasonable SOFA.

      • If Meade had lost at Gettysburg and, even more, if Sherman had failed to take Atlanta, in time for the 1864 election, wouldn’t McClellan have had a better chance of winning the 1864 presidential election? A victory for McClellan would have meant a cessation of hostilities, effectively a victory and independence for the southern states, including the continuation of slavery, wouldn’t it?

        Stupid capitulations, even if supported by NY and MA voters, can have catastrophic results.

    • Perhaps you should take a close look at the links Obama has with the Saudis. There are photos of him as President bowing to the Saudi King, something protocol demands is never done.

      The fact that both Obama and Clinton were aware that Saudi and Qatar knew of the backing they had for ISIS and actively attempted to cover it up speaks volumes.

      The way in which successive US Presidents covered up the Saudi involvement in 9/11 is also highly suspicious.

      The possible corruption of Western politicians needs to be taken very much more seriously than it currently is being.

    • I suspect you noticed that something else we did lately was specify officially that IRGC is the next thing to a terrorist organization and sanction them, the only reason we didn’t name them a flat out terrorist organization is that would require us to do things we can’t do right now. One thing it may mean is that anyone dealing with them can be subject to US banking sanction (Hi, Germany). These clowns have been at war with us since 1979, and we’ve finally got a President who understands some of this stuff.

  5. It’s not just a case of nuclear weapons, but that Iran is anti-western and has been either sponsoring or harbouring those who would like nothing better than to destroy the West, beginning with Israel. We should have ended them and Saudi Arabia a long time ago, but money and political careers have kept the gravy train flowing.

    I’ve seen reports which suggest Iran conducts missile launches, the bodies of the rockets emblazoned with the Arabic ‘death to Israel’. They are also currently trading rocket technology with North Korea which means a potential for the acquisition of a nuclear warhead. Iran doesn’t need a complex IBM in order to threaten Israel.

        • If I were a leader in the Middle East, no matter how friendly Israel was I’d want the bomb for my country….wouldn’t you?

          • Absolutely, but from a western perspective it certainly isn’t advantageous to let a lot of middle eastern savages get hold of them.

          • That’s only because you place reason before religious doctrine. This has is not the CE, it’s not Iraq, Libya nor Syria. This is a religious state that believes completely that Allah will grant them the power to smite his enemies and that they will emerge victorious from any conflict. That’s what a Jihad is all about. They aren’t of course crazy enough to attempt to attack anyone until they have the means to do so.

    • Iran is anti Western because the West has cosied up to Salafist Sunni nations in the regions which hate the Shia bunch regardless of who is ruling the country.

      Saudi oil money ensures that corrupt Western leaders do what ever Saudi requires of them, including promoting Islam at home, and waging wars which are in Saudis interests. Saudi sponsorship of Western further education is cementing their political outlook.

      In fact it might well be the case that the every existence of this site is down to the Saudi interference in our own political parties. I can still remember Jonathan Aitken and the millions he obtained from Saudi, it all seemed to go quiet after that, when politicians realised they might get caught.

      • Iran is anti-western because it’s culture and politics are Islamic and it hates it’s two neighbours because one has a version of Islam it is sworn to eradicate and the other is Jewish which it has sworn to eradicate.

        • Iran is suspicious of the West because we kept in a place murderous corrupt dictator and since that chap got booted out in a popular revolution, we’ve been trying to get another placeman in ever since.

  6. The largest current exporters and funders of the terrorism that threatens the UK isn’t Iran, it is Saudi Arabia. Of course HMG shut down publication of the report into Saudi activities in the UK… …I presume for reasons of space alone, the author didn’t mention that when the author wrote of his worries over Saudi concerns relating to Iran. Iran and Russia – like ’em or loathe ’em – are busy chopping up the terrorists who follow the Saudi doctrine of Islamo-fascism.

  7. One of the best trends that Trump is pushing is to make Congress do its job. With Iran, with Obamacare, with illegal immigration, and more. It’s very likely to break the establishment GOP, a very good thing.

    Another thing we noticed is that all of those whining about the failure to certify are making boatloads of money off of JCPOA, most especially Germany. Make a fortune even if the immolate us in ten years. Yeah, that’s a plan since Merkel will likely be gone by then. Kick that can, hard. If something isn’t done, we’ll have another North Korea on Europe’s doorstep, one that wants Armageddon. Is that really a good idea?

  8. This is just another example of how Trump outmanoeuvres his opponents in international 4-dimensional chess. Putting the responsibility for this on Congress shows how far ahead of his fellow world “leaders” (followers more like) his thinking is

  9. Iran is an ancient and dignified nation with a populace more sophisticated than most or all of the surrounding countries. I have no problem with the idea of it having nuclear weapons.

    It would be good if Iran good loosen some of its religious authoritarianism. Some of this, however, may be a reaction to the depredations of the madcap Anglo-Americans [eg Iraq 2003] and their Wahhabist and Zionist sidekicks.

  10. Off topic – I see Trump is now criticising folks for politicising the deaths of servicemen….this would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

  11. The middle East is a mess we should steer clear of as all sides are as insane as each other.
    As far as the deal is concerned, I would trust a hard nosed business man used to doing deals and reading the fine print over an appeasing globalist looking to virtue signal his credentials.

  12. Excellent piece Campbell. Iran is an exporter of terrorism and those who excuse it by playing whataboutery with
    Saudi Arabia are ignoring the evidence.

    Iran is run by a Shiite theocracy, exports terrorism, subjugates women, murders gay men by hanging them from cranes, finances Hezbollah and Hamas and is happily working on acquiring nuclear weapons while the West looks away. Anyone who excuses them is immoral.

    Remember the Argentina bombings of Jewish centres? That is just one example of Iran’s export of terrorism. There are plenty more, including its interference in Syria. And let’s not forget the Iran-Iraq war.

    We really need to get out of the habit of blaming the West for what is the age old clash between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. There is a major power struggle between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran. This is continuous and has recently been demonstrated by the dreadful bombings in Yemen.

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