There’s a pitched rhetorical battle underway right now in Washington as an October 15 deadline approaches for President Trump to certify to Congress that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA) is in the national interests of the United States and that Iran is in compliance. Although the president said last week he has made his decision, backers and opponents of the agreement are working overtime to convince him to adopt their recommendations.
President Trump has been highly critical of the JCPOA, calling it “the worst deal ever” during the presidential campaign and “an embarrassment to the United States” during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19.
However, the president reluctantly certified the nuclear deal to Congress twice this year due to heavy pressure from his top national security advisers, especially Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. After a heated discussion with his advisers, Mr Trump made the last certification in July but indicated he did not plan to do so again.
A few months ago, Tillerson, McMaster and other advisers were telling President Trump he had no choice but to certify the JCPOA because Iran was in compliance and any violations were “not material.” Many disagreed, including Senators Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, David Perdue, R-Ga., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who spelled out major instances of Iranian noncompliance and cheating in a July 11, 2017 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.