The Trump administration certified to Congress late Monday that Iran has continued to meet the required conditions of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers.
But senior administration officials made clear that the certification was grudging and said that Trump intended to impose a new round of sanctions against Iran for ongoing “malign activities” in non-nuclear areas such as ballistic missile development and support for terrorism.
“We judge that these Iranian activities severely undermine the intent” of the agreement as a force for international stability, one official said. Iran is “unquestionably in default of the spirit of the JCPOA,” or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that went into effect in January 2016 after years of negotiations, the official said.
International monitors and other signatories of the agreement have said that Iran is meeting its terms, giving the administration little room for maneuver in providing the assessment required by Congress every 90 days.
The last certification of Iranian compliance, in April, was also followed by a new round of sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies the administration said played a role in ballistic missile tests that are not covered by the nuclear agreement.
“We do expect to be implementing new sanctions” related to missiles and Iran’s “fast boat program,” the official said but declined to specify what the measures would be. The administration has charged Iran with using military patrol boats to impede free navigation in the Persian Gulf.
Three senior administration officials briefed reporters on the certification on conditions of anonymity imposed by the White House.
Earlier in the day, Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. H.R. McMaster, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previewed the sanctions in a closed-door meeting with representatives of Washington-based think tanks to which reporters were not invited.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran, which denied it was developing nuclear weapons, agreed to sharply limit the number and capability of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, give up nearly all of its previously enriched stock, and submit to intrusive verification measures in exchange for an end to U.S. and international sanctions related to the program.
Trump has called the deal fatally flawed and said he would either renegotiate it or kill it.
In making the certification, an official said, “the secretary of state and the president intend to emphasize that Iran remains one of the most dangerous threats to U.S. interests and to regional stability, and to highlight the range of malign activities.” They include “atrocities by the Assad regime” that Iran supports in Syria, “continuing hostility to Israel” and other actions, as well as its missile program and terrorist support.
Other signatories to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union – have indicated they believe it is working.
An administration review of the JCPOA is expected to be finished before the next certification is due in October. In the meantime, officials said, they will work with allies to come to a common agreement on its flaws.