WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Trump said he would be “surprised” if the United States adjudicates Iran in compliance with the nuclear deal in three months.
“We’ll talk about the subject in 90 days, but I would be surprised if they were in compliance,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
The United States must declare Iran in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal every 90 days. Trump, acting on the advice of his top security advisers, agreed to do so earlier this month, but with great reluctance.
“If that deal doesn’t conform to what it’s supposed to conform to, it’s going to be big, big problems for them,” Trump said later that day in Youngstown, Ohio. “That I can tell you. Believe me.”
Trump reportedly is coming around to embracing an argument that Iran is in violation of the “spirit” of the deal even if it is complying with its narrow particulars, mandating limited uranium enrichment. Iran has continued its ballistic missile testing and maintains an interventionist role in conflicts in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Syria.
Congress also is increasing pressure on Iran. A bill that the House passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday ramps up sanctions on Iran for its missile testing, human rights abuses and backing of terrorism, and tightens the president’s ability to waive the sanctions. The measure, which also includes Russia and North Korea sanctions, has yet to come to the Senate floor for a vote.
AIPAC, which led opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, backs the bill.
Defenders of the nuclear deal say it was designed purely to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons power, allowing the United States and its allies to more comfortably confront it on issues like terrorism, military interventions and missile testing. Obama, like Trump, continued to sanction Iran in those areas.