White House Tips Hand — Slightly — on Iran Deal

Fact sheet refers to nuclear pact beyond Trump speech

President Donald Trump is scheduled to weigh in on the Iran nuclear deal on Friday. A fact sheet released by the White House may indicate that the agreement isn’t dead. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ahead of a much-anticipated announcement by President Donald Trump about the Iran nuclear deal, the White House tipped its hand a bit by signaling the agreement may not be dead.

The White House released a fact sheet late Thursday night laying out the administration’s new Iran policy that was subject to an early Friday morning embargo. While it did not specify if Trump will, as expected, decertify the deal with Tehran, it called for the pact to be implemented more stringently.

The telling line came in a section of the fact sheet that criticized Iran for refusing to allow international inspectors into its facilities.

“The deal must be strictly enforced, and the IAEA must fully utilize its inspection authorities,” the White House said, signaling the pact may still be in place beyond Trump’s 12:45 p.m. Friday speech on his decision.

Several reports from major media outlets indicate the commander in chief is poised to decertify the deal, but bring Congress in on deciding Washington’s next steps — despite what his chief of staff, John Kelly, described Thursday as Trump’s frequent frustration with lawmakers.

Such a move would mean the president essentially would be giving a pact he has called “the worst deal ever” perhaps one last shot to show more results.

Trump and his national security team remain highly skeptical of the deal the Obama administration cut with Tehran and other global powers (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China).

The Trump administration has concluded Iran’s actions “severely undercut” regional and international security that that agreement was designed to achieve, the White House said in the fact sheet.

The White House said Iranian officials, since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was inked with Tehran has shown a “disturbing pattern of behavior” and tried to “exploit loopholes and test the international community’s resolve.”

In a midday speech from the White House’s opulent Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump on Friday will spell out not only his decision on the nuclear deal, but also a new U.S. strategy for dealing with Iran.

It will be focused on “neutralizing the government of Iran’s destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants,” according to the White House fact sheet.

The new strategy also will aim to put pressure on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for alleged destabilizing activities in the region, such as support for violent extremist organizations.

As often is the case from the Trump White House, the fact sheet contains several muscular — though vague — promises.

“We will counter threats to the United States and our allies from ballistic missiles and other asymmetric weapons,” the fact sheet said. “Most importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

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