Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ahead of Trump announcement, White House unveils new strategy to combat Iran aggression - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

In Friday speech, U.S. President Donald Trump expected to call on lawmakers to codify new requirements for Iran to continue to benefit from sanctions relief under 2015 nuclear deal

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the 
White House, Thursday
Photo: AP

Hours before U.S. President Donald Trump was planning to deliver a broad and harsh critique of Iran in a speech on Friday, the White House unveiled a "new strategy" for cracking down on Iranian aggression.
According to U.S. media outlets, the strategy aims to curb Iran's ballistic missile testing, its destabilizing efforts throughout the Middle East and the aggression of the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran's armed forces.
"The Trump administration's Iran policy will address the totality of these threats from and malign activities by the Government of Iran and will seek to bring about a change in the Iranian's regime's behavior," the White House said early Friday.
Later in the day, Trump was expected to declare that the landmark Iran nuclear deal is not in America's national security interests, according to U.S. officials and outside advisers to the administration.
Trump's speech from the White House was set to outline specific faults he found in the 2015 accord and also focus on an array of Iran's troubling non-nuclear activities, four officials and advisers said.
Under U.S. law, Trump must notify Congress by Oct. 15 whether Iran is complying with the accord negotiated by former President Barack Obama and determine if it remains a national security priority. Although Trump intends to say Iran is living up to the letter of the agreement, he will make the case that the deal is fatally flawed and that its non-nuclear behavior violates the spirit of the regional stability it was intended to encourage, officials and advisers said.
The officials and advisers said Trump will not call for renewed nuclear sanctions on Tehran. He will urge lawmakers to codify tough new requirements for Iran to continue to benefit from the sanctions relief it won in exchange for curbing its atomic program. He will also announce his long-anticipated intention to impose sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps by designating it a terrorist organization under an existing executive order, according to the officials and advisers.
In addition, Trump will ask Congress to amend or replace outright the legislation that currently requires him to certify Iranian compliance every 90 days. Officials have said that Trump hates the requirement more than the nuclear deal itself because it forces him to take a position on what he has denounced as the worst deal in American history every three months. That frequency has also irritated aides who have complained that they are spending inordinate amounts of time on certification at the expense of other issues.
At the White House, Trump's Chief of Staff John Kelly confirmed that the president would announce the results of his Iran policy review on Friday but declined to offer any detail.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken with senior officials from Britain, China, France and Russia;in recent days to discuss Trump's planned announcement, the State Department said without giving details.
"I would describe them as listening calls, consulting calls and having conversations about the overall rollout, if you will, of the plan ... which the president will announce tomorrow," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters, saying Tillerson spoke to the French and Russian foreign ministers and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Thursday and to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson "in recent days."
But in a possible preview of Trump's announcement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted Iran during a speech at the University of Texas, calling Iran's Intelligence Ministry and Revolutionary Guards "cudgels of a despotic theocracy."
The Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is responsible for external operations, is expanding its power across the Middle East, Pompeo said.
"Unlike ISIS and its mirage of a caliphate, Iran is now a powerful nation that remains the world's largest state sponsor of terror."
The head of U.S. Central Command said he was concerned about Iran's long-term activities in the region and would continue to focus on protecting U.S. troops, even as Iran has said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed.
"Iran is kind of a long-term destabilizing actor in the region and so we remain concerned about their activities as well," U.S. General Joseph Votel told reporters.
"Leadership will make the decisions and we will be prepared to do what we need to do to continue to protect ourselves and particularly to protect our interests in the region," Votel added.
White House aides initially sought a venue for Trump's address that would project American power and determination. The shuttered former Iranian embassy in Washington was briefly considered before being deemed inappropriate. Officials also considered the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, which was ruled out because it is currently being renovated.
American allies, who have pressed the White House to remain in the nuclear accord, will be closely watching the president's address. Trump wants to impress on the European parties to the accord – Germany, France and Britain – the importance of fixing what he sees as flaws in the nuclear accord and addressing malign behavior not covered in the agreement.
The Europeans, along with the other parties, Iran, Russia and China, have ruled out reopening the deal. But some, notably France, have signaled a willingness to tackle unresolved issues in supplementary negotiations. Among those issues is the expiration of several restrictions on advanced nuclear activity under so-called "sunset clauses" that will allow Iran to begin ramping up its enrichment capabilities after 10 years, the end of yhe arms embargo and the eventual easing of demands for a halt to its missile program.
In the speech, Trump hopes to "recruit" the Europeans into joining his broad strategy, particularly by punishing the Revolutionary Guards Corps, which he and his national security team believe is fomenting instability, violence and extremism throughout the Middle East and beyond, according to one official.
In anticipation of Trump's announcements, Republican legislators have drawn up new versions of the law replacing the current 90-day timetable with "semi-annual" certifications, according to two drafts seen by the Associated Press this week.
Both drafts, one from Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker, and one from committee member and harsh deal critic Sen. Tom Cotton, expand the U.S. certification criteria to include items that are also the province of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and require the U.S. intelligence community to determine if Iran is carrying out illicit activities in facilities to which the International Atomic Energy Agency has not had access.
The certification would also demand that the intelligence community produce judgments on Iranian behavior not covered by the nuclear deal, including missile testing and development, backing for Hezbollah and Assad and threats to Israel and the Middle East more broadly, according to the drafts.

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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