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Trump takes first steps toward walking away from Iran nuclear deal
President Trump indicated Thursday that he will not re-certify the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. European and U.S. officials both warned that if he follows through on this, a whole new confrontation with Iran could result while U.S. credibility suffers.
By Lucas Rowe
Jan 15, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — President Trump is preparing to cease U.S. participation in the 2015 accord overseeing Iran's dismantlement of its nuclear weapons programs. He announced to reporters Thursday that Iran is not living up to the "spirit" of the accord and that he consequently intends to not recertify it.

"The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East," Trump said at a White House meeting of U.S. military leaders. "That is why we must put an end to Iran's continued aggression and nuclear ambitions."

Under the accord, Iran gets sanctions relief in return for letting the United States and partner nations verify that it is not developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. president must formally "recertify" every few months that Iran is complying and that the United States should continue to uphold the accord.

Trump re-certified the accord twicemost recently in Julybut appears unwilling to recertify it again this time around. If he denies recertification, Congress will be able to re-impose sanctions within the next 60 days, which would potentially spur Iran to leave the deal and set off a new confrontation over Iran's weapons programs.

The deal has the endorsement of top U.S. military officials. Defense Secretary James Mattis has said that staying in the deal is in the United States' best interests, while General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently that leaving the deal would undermine U.S. credibility and impair the U.S. mandate to strike other security accords in the future.

The French, UK, and German governments, who were also signers of the deal, have urged the United States to stay in it, as well. All three are now making efforts to lobby Congress against re-imposing sanctions.