October 6, 2017

SENATOR TOM COTTON: ‘Willing’ to Give Administration, Allies More Than 60 Days to Try for ‘Better’ Iran Deal.

RELATED, FROM STEPHEN HAYES AND MICHAEL WARREN: The art of decertifying the Iran deal.

What happens after decertification is a precarious balancing act if the president hopes to succeed in renegotiating a better deal that achieves the U.S. goal of preventing a nuclear Iran. There are a lot of things Trump and his administration could do to try to improve the deal before deciding whether to scrap it altogether. As Mark Dubowitz and David Albright put it in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, these include: designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, slapping Iranian companies and organizations with new non-nuclear sanctions allowed under the JCPOA, insisting on making permanent the “sunset clauses” that only temporarily restrict Iran’s nuclear program and testing, and demanding thorough and complete inspections of Iranian facilities to ensure compliance. In his Council on Foreign Relations speech, Tom Cotton echoed these ideas.

Success on this post-decertification route will require working closely with Congress, negotiating with European allies who have economic interests in Iran and want to expand them, and follow-through and commitment on the part of the administration. John Bolton tells TWS he’s highly skeptical of the news reports of this plan. “What’s been described is an incoherent policy mishmash,” says Bolton, who was candid in his criticism of Tillerson, Mattis, and McMaster’s guidance of the president toward recertification back in July. “If they failed to present the president with the full range of policy options, it is—and I say this wittingly—a dereliction of duty.” If Trump begins to feel this way again, he could upend the difficult path forward for improving the deal.

It’s the worst of all possible deals, locked in by Russian and Chinese intransigence and our own foreign policy and national security establishments.

Thanks, Obama.

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