It may be too soon to say with certainty what President Trump is going to do in respect of the nuclear deal with Iran. It’s not too soon, though, to express the hope that the report late this morning is accurate – that the president has decided to decertify Iranian compliance with the deal. That would be the most encouraging foreign policy development of Mr. Trump’s presidency so far.
The report was dispatched earlier today by Adam Kredo of the Free Beacon. Other reporters have hinted at it in recent weeks. Mr. Kredo reports that the administration is due to announce that it “will not formally certify Iran as in compliance.” It reckons the move “could kill the agreement and set the stage for Congress to re-impose harsh economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.”
Mr. Kredo cites “multiple U.S. officials and sources familiar with the situation.” He notes that Secretaries Tillerson and Mattis are pushing for Mr. Trump to “preserve the deal.” Mr. Kredo’s sources, though, report that the president has become what Mr. Kredo calls “frustrated with Iran's continued tests of ballistic missile technology and rogue operations targeting U.S. forces in the region.”
Washington skivvy has it that a draft of the president’s pending announcement, marked for delivery October 12, is now being circulated. Statute sets an October 15 deadline for the president to let Congress know whether he is prepared to certify the Iranians in compliance. If he fails to so certify, the matter will move to Congress, which, in the Sun’s view, is where it should have been.
This, by our lights, is reason enough to refrain from certifying the deal. We have made the point so often that the typesetters are liable to throw an ingot at us. The original sin in this whole process of appeasement is that it was pursued without any buy-in by the Congress. When President Obama and Secretary Kerry finally cut the deal, they knew that both houses were against it.
That is far worse than what happened with, say, SALT II. That’s the parchment inked by President Carter and the Soviet party boss at the time, Leonid Brezhnev, at Vienna. The Senate mightn’t have been on board. At least, though, the measure was particularized as a proper treaty, subject to ratification by the Senate. Mr. Obama shrank from such forthright dealings.
Worse, Messrs. Obama and Kerry then slithered over to the United Nations and sought in the Security Council to bind America to a contract that both houses of Congress opposed — and opposed “overwhelmingly,” to use the adverb used by the New York Times in an editorial only last month. It’s one of the most galling gambits ever attempted by an American president.
For Mr. Obama to then start flying to the Ayatollahs planeloads of cash taken, as our Claudia Rosett reported, from previously appropriated accounts for the settlement of legal disputes is just mind-boggling. Mr. Trump was right as rain to take the matter to the American people, and it has to be credited as one, if only one, of the reasons 30 states handed him the presidency in the first place.
So our hope is that the reports today hold up — that the president holds up. Decertification, as Ambassador Haley has made clear in recent weeks, doesn’t necessary mean the end of the deal. It could, though, open the door to rebuilding our Iran policy on a more hard-headed and constitutional basis. It would be nice to have the Europeans with us, but the Congress is more important.