WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSMiami) – “Today, I am announcing our strategy, along with several major steps we are taking to confront the Iranian regime’s hostile actions, and to ensure that Iran never — and I mean never — acquires a nuclear weapon.”
Those were the words of President Donald Trump Friday as he struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in defiance of other world powers, choosing not to certify that Tehran is complying with the deal in a major reversal of U.S. policy.
“As President of the United States, my highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people. History has shown that the longer we ignore a threat, the more dangerous that threat becomes,” said the President during his speech that detailed a more confrontational approach to Iran over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and its support for extremist groups in the Middle East.
“Our policy is based on a clear-eyed assessment of the Iranian dictatorship, its sponsorship of terrorism, and its continuing aggression in the Middle East and all around the world. Iran is under the control of a fanatical regime that seized power in 1979 and forced a proud people to submit to its extremist rule. This radical regime has raided the wealth of one of the world’s oldest and most vibrant nations, and spread death, destruction and chaos all around the globe.”
He also revealed the U.S. will slap Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with sanctions for supporting terrorism. The new designation uses existing sanctions authority created by an executive order in 2001. The Treasury Department says the penalties are punishment for supporting the Quds force, an expeditionary unit of the Revolutionary Guard. The Treasury Department also says the Revolutionary Guard has supported lethal activities by Hezbollah and Hamas, and enabled Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “relentless campaign of brutal violence against his own people.” But the U.S. is not adding the Revolutionary Guard to the formal U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. That step would force the U.S. to take even further steps against the Revolutionary Guard that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says could be problematic.
Trump says the administration will seek to counter the regime’s destabilizing activities and will impose additional sanctions on the regime to block its financing of terrorism.
The President says the new strategy will also seek to address the proliferation of Iran’s missiles and weapons.
Trump did not pull the United States out of the agreement, aimed at preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, but he did give the U.S. Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the pact. He said if Congress cannot come up with new legislation, he will terminate the Obama-era pact.
That would increase tension with Iran as well as put Washington at odds with other signatories of the accord such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union.
Trump’s move is essentially a compromise that allows him to condemn the accord but stop short of torpedoing it.