Decertifying the nuclear deal with Iran is the first step toward fixing its severe deficiencies that place Iran on a North Korean-style glide path to developing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Decertification is the first part of a strategy to “decertify, pressure and fix.” A 2015 law requires the president to certify to Congress every 90 days not just that Iran is fully implementing the nuclear deal, but also that the suspension of sanctions remains vital to U.S. national security interests.
The problem is that the deal’s restrictions will start to expire in a few years because of multiple “sunset” clauses. Iranian leaders repeatedly threaten to deny United Nations inspectors access to the types of military sites where Tehran once conducted secret nuclear weapons work. Meanwhile, the regime is testing nuclear-capable missiles and receiving tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief to fund foreign aggression and internal repression.
Decertifying the deal does not mean breaking the deal, nor does it require reimposing the original nuclear sanctions. President Trump plans to roll out a comprehensive strategy to roll back Iranian aggression and to fix the deal. Lawmakers should be patient and hold off, for now, on any effort to re-implement original sanctions or take America out of the deal.
The president’s comprehensive pressure strategy should apply instruments of financial coercion, including sanctions and heavy penalties, to all entities that facilitate terrorism, missile development, regional aggression, corruption and human rights abuses. Key targets include the Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and Iran’s clerical establishment. Such measures are fully compliant with the nuclear deal, which only bars nuclear sanctions.
The French are already working on ways to fix the agreement based on their own concerns and their desire to keep the U.S. in the deal.
This effort should be given some time to succeed. The indispensable first step toward that goal is decertification. It has moved the debate on the fatally flawed nuclear deal from “keep it or nix it” to “fix it or nix it.” That’s progress.
Mark Dubowitz is CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Mark on Twitter @mdubowitz.
Follow the the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Twitter @FDD.