Trump Teases Iran Deal Decision: ‘You’re Going to See What I Do’

President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
AP/Evan Vucci

In a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the White House Tuesday, President Donald Trump did not reveal whether he was considering recertifying the Iran deal when the decision reaches his desk in May, telling reporters, “you’ll see what happens.”

Trump and Bin Salman, known commonly by his initials MBS, met to discuss financial ties, a joint effort in combating terrorism, and regional concerns in the Middle East. Trump congratulated MBS for his nation’s efforts to limit terrorism financing and celebrated the signing of major trade deals between the two countries.

Asked about the Iranian nuclear deal, known officially as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Trump did not definitively state whether he would certify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the deal, which requires the nation to cease all activity that brings it closer to developing a nuclear weapon or move to end the agreement entirely.

“We’re going to see what happens,” Trump said. “The Iran deal is coming up, probably a month or so, but you’re going to see what I do.”

“Iran has not been treating that part of the world, or the world itself, appropriately. A lot of things are happening in Iran, the deal is coming up on one month, and you’ll see what happens,” he concluded.

Bin Salman added that the two had discussed the nuclear deal privately in their meeting.

Trump also told reported the two discussed limiting terror financing. Trump told reporters that his administration has “a zero-tolerance policy for the funding of terrorists and we’re working very hard, and Saudi Arabia has been working very hard on that – as are other countries in the Middle East.”

Under the Obama-era deal, President Trump is required to certify every 90 days that Iran is in compliance with the deal as per the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Trump has so far not moved to do away with the nuclear deal in its entirety. In October, Trump refused to certify that Iran was in compliance with the deal, but did not do away with it, instead urging Congress to pass new sanctions against the regime. Trump recertified the deal in January, but officials at the time said it would be the last time.

Trump must recertify the deal or declare Iran in violation of it by May.

The president can allege two types of violations of the deal. The first is a “material breach,” which constitutes acts that “benefit Iran’s nuclear program … decrease the amount of time required by Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon,” or undermine the purpose of the agreement, which is to keep Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. The second type of violation is “noncompliance,” which Trump used in October, and is reserved for “any departure from the terms of the agreement that is not a material breach.”

Iran has received over $100 billion dollars in sanctions relief since signing the deal, money it has used to expand the influence of its terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Venezuela. As the Iranian government has repeatedly threatened Saudi Arabia – and demanded custody of the two holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina – restricting Iranian influence globally is a key concern for the Saudi monarchy.

In an interview with 60 Minutes airing Sunday, Mohammed Bin Salman expressed his government’s belief that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei “wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time.” He stated that Riyadh has no independent intentions of becoming a nuclear state, “but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”

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