All eyes are on the White House this week as the deadline approaches to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump called one of the worst deals ever made. With just few days left, it remains unknown whether the president will continue the international accord.
Under the deal, which was reached between Iran and the six countries of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany in July 2015, Iran said it would reverse its nuclear program in exchange for the dropping of international sanctions that crippled its economy and caused the tumbling of the nation's currency.
Trump and other critics have long blasted the deal as a path to nuclear weapons for Iran, though the latter insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
With the clock ticking, the president must inform the Congress by Oct. 15 whether he believes Iran is going along with the rules laid out in the nuclear deal, and whether the deal is aligned with American interests. If not, U.S. lawmakers must within 60 days decide whether or not to slap sanctions back on Iran, according to stipulations governing the agreement.
Now, many Democratic lawmakers who were initially opposed to the deal are asking Trump not to pull out, and contend that enforcing the accord is the best way forward. Many on Trump's national security staff are also wary of scrapping the deal.
On Wednesday, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said at a hearing on Iran that the nuke deal should be strictly enforced, and the United States will work with allies on the issue.
"As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it," Royce said.
But the Republican heavyweight representative urged Washington not to put an end to the deal.
Darrell West, a Brookings Institution Senior Fellow, also said that a possible refusal by Trump to recertify the agreement would give Iran "an excuse to opt-out of the deal."
"They would have the ability to continue their nuclear program and refuse to allow inspectors access to their facilities," West said, speaking of a scenario that could unfold if Trump does not continue the agreement.
West said this would be "catastrophic" for the Middle East for it will add uncertainty to the region and create anxiety among regional countries.
Though the deal isn't perfect, there are positive aspects such as imposing constraints on Iran, said West. It could be a "very short-sighted move on Trump's part" to decertify the deal.
Furthermore, West pointed out, decertifying the deal would add to the tensions the United States has been already facing. "If the agreement falls apart, Trump will face a crisis not just in North Korea, but in Iran," he said, referring to the name Americans often use for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Currently, tensions are rising between Washington and Pyongyang over the latter's nuclear weapons program, and harsh rhetoric between the United States and DPRK has escalated in recent days and weeks.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)