New measures under consideration include “licenses for more American businesses and lifting additional U.S. sanctions.”
The Obama administration is considering new measures in its final months in office to strengthen the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, senior U.S. officials said, with President-elect Donald Trump’s first appointments foreshadowing an increasingly rocky road for the controversial deal.
Action under consideration to buttress the pact includes steps to provide licenses for more American businesses to enter the Iranian market and the lifting of additional U.S. sanctions.
The effort to shore up the agreement was under way before the election and is not aimed at boxing in Mr. Trump, who opposes the deal, the officials said. Officials also acknowledged the proposals are unlikely to make the nuclear agreement more difficult to undo.
Mr. Trump’s first two picks for his national security team — retired Army Gen. Mike Flynn as national security adviser and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.) as Central Intelligence Agency director — are hard-liners on Iran who have voiced opposition to the nuclear deal.
But here’s the thing. “Under the deal, reached in July 2015, Tehran agreed to scale back its nuclear capabilities in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.”
Nonetheless, although “the Obama administration has praised Tehran for abiding by the nuclear agreement,” and Secretary of State John Kerry “has maintained a belief that Iran could emerge as a partner for the U.S. in stabilizing the Mideast — even so, “the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, raised concerns this month about Iran’s commitment to abiding by the nuclear accord.”
The IAEA announced that Iran had twice breached its commitment to keep its production of heavy water, a key material for nuclear weapons development, under a cap of 130 metric tons.
The first time, the Obama administration stepped in to purchase the excess heavy water from Iran. The IAEA said Iran was now seeking another international buyer to help it remain in compliance.
Mr. Pompeo and other Republican leaders have stressed that the U.S. under a President Trump will no longer aid Iran, but will, instead, vigorously enforce the terms of the deal.
“Many Members of Congress continue to believe the U.S. should not bear the burden of Iran’s ongoing failure to meet its…obligation,” Mr. Pompeo wrote Mr. Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in a letter dated Nov. 14 but not yet sent.
So what will be the ultimate price of keeping alive such a misbegotten deal?