Those who believed the bitter debate over the Iranian nuclear deal was an artifact of the Obama years destined to be reviewed only in the presidential library have it seriously wrong. While the debate is again alive and loud, in the Trump White House incarnation it reaches deeply into the administration itself and pits colleagues against one another. One reason the issue resurfaces with regularity is the requirement that the president certify Iran’s compliance every 45-days. Otherwise, the door is opened to new sanctions and doubtless further deterioration of the already barely-existent relationship between the two nations. With the October 15 deadline drawing near, President Trump has again ratcheted-up his criticism of the Islamic Republic and what he calls “the worst deal ever negotiated.” But even within his administration, there are many who hesitate to renege on an agreement negotiated by the executive, even if it was never signed and the previous administration was vague on its legal status. On Tuesday, none other than the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford (Marine Corps) told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his reappointment hearing that, “It makes sense to me that our holding up agreements that we have signed, unless there is a material breech, would have an impact on others’ willingness to sign agreements.” Passions continue to soar as Tehran tweaks the American nose with grandiose missile displays and demonstrations of its military prowess while remaining technically within the lines of the agreement. On the other side, many fear a regional arms race and upsurge in Iranian mischief if the deal falls apart.
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