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J Street welcomes news that the Trump administration has re-issued the sanctions waivers necessary to uphold US obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran. Yet we remain alarmed by reports that the administration may take action in the near future to undermine the agreement and renege on American commitments, with disastrous consequences for the security of the US and Israel.
Iran’s non-nuclear malign behaviors, including its development of ballistic missiles and its support for terrorism, must continue to be confronted, both through appropriately-targeted sanctions and other measured steps. New individual sanctions designations issued today by the Trump administration – like those issued by the Obama administration – are a good example of this kind of effective response. But non-nuclear actions by Iran clearly fall outside the scope of the JCPOA. Iran’s horrendous track record on these issues is precisely why upholding the JCPOA is so important, and why it is so critical that Iran never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Any attempts by the administration to use Iran’s non-nuclear activities as a pretext for withdrawing from the JCPOA would be correctly seen by our allies, by Iran and by the international community as deliberate acts of bad faith. The P5+1 coalition have also made clear that they have zero interest in “reopening” or “renegotiating” the agreement, but rightly welcome additional efforts to address Iran’s non-nuclear actions through diplomacy.
By October 15th of next month, the administration must re-certify Iranian compliance with the JCPOA, as it already has twice before. The agreement is working. It has successfully blocked all Iranian pathways to a nuclear weapon. Undermining or withdrawing from it would alienate the US from our allies and could return Iran once again to possessing a rapidly advancing nuclear program. It would make it far harder to successfully respond to and oppose Iranian threats to regional peace and stability.