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US President Donald Trump has grounds to declare that Iran is violating the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers, his top diplomat to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said.
The nuclear agreement-struck in July 2015 between the Obama administration, Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom-requires that Iran severely curb its nuclear activities in return for global sanctions relief.
Under US law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal. The next deadline is October.
"I'm not making the case for decertifying. What I am saying is, should he decide to decertify, he has grounds to stand on," Haley said yesterday.
"All I wanted to do was put out the facts, because it's very easy to just talk about compliance in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but there's so much more to the story that we need to be looking at, and there's so much more that the president has to be looking at," the top Indian-American diplomat said in response to a question at the American Enterprise Institute, a top American conservative think-tank.
She said she did not know what Trump plans to do next month when he is due to certify to Congress whether Tehran is complying with the agreement. But she appeared to lay the groundwork for Trump to declare that Iran is in violation of the deal.
Haley said the UN must consider the regime's repeated demonstrated hostility towards the United States.
"We must consider its history of deception about its nuclear programme. We must consider its ongoing development of ballistic missile technology. And we must consider the day when the terms of the JCPOA sunset," she said.
That's a day when Iran's military may very well already have the missile technology to send a nuclear warhead to the United States, a technology that North Korea only recently developed, she added.
"We must consider the whole jigsaw puzzle. And if the president does not certify Iranian compliance, the Corker- Cardin law also tells us what happens next," she said, adding that what happens next is significantly in Congress's hands.
This is critically important and almost completely overlooked. If the president chooses not to certify Iranian compliance, that does not mean the United States is withdrawing from the JCPOA. Withdrawal from the agreement is governed by the terms of the JCPOA. The Corker- Cardin law governs the relationship between the president and Congress, Haley said.
"If the president finds that he cannot certify Iranian compliance, it would signal one or more of the following messages to Congress: Either the administration believes Iran is in violation of the deal, or the lifting of sanctions against Iran is not appropriate and proportional to the regime's behaviour, or the lifting of sanctions is not in the US national security interest," Haley said.
Haley warned that if the international community continues to not look at the Iranian activity, and just say, "We'll deal with that later," they will be dealing with the next North Korea, because they are allowing them to go and develop advanced technology right there in front of them.