Posted tagged ‘Iranian missiles’

Nikki Haley Increasing Scrutiny of Iran Amid Nuclear Deal Review

August 17, 2017

Nikki Haley Increasing Scrutiny of Iran Amid Nuclear Deal Review, Washington Free Beacon, August 17, 2017

(Please see also, President [of Iran]: Iran Could Swiftly Return to Pre-JCPOA Conditions. Will Ambassador Haley discuss — or be permitted to review — the limitations imposed on the IAEA under the “secret agreements” between it and the Iranian regime?– DM)

Nikki Haley / Getty Images

Haley will meet next week with members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the deal, as part of a fact-finding mission to investigate the extent of Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The trip is part of a policy review ordered by President Donald Trump in April to evaluate Iran’s adherence to the 2015 agreement. The administration said the review will be completed before the deal is up for recertification in October.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has ramped up pressure on Iran ahead of a trip to Vienna next week, where she will meet with international atomic watchdog officials concerning Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Haley on Tuesday rejected threats from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who warned the country could walk away from its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States continued to impose new sanctions.

Rouhani said recently enacted sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile program violated its pact with the United States and five other world powers, which aimed to limit Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions related to the program.

Haley said the sanctions were separate from the deal and were instead imposed “to hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions.”

“Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage,” Haley said in a statement directed at Rouhani. “The nuclear deal must not become ‘too big to fail.'”

Earlier this month, the United States, backed by Britain, France, and Germany, demanded the UN Security Council take action against Iran after the Islamic Republic launched a rocket carrying a satellite into space in late July.

The group, spearheaded by Haley, warned in a letter to the council that the Iranian missile was “inherently capable of delivering a nuclear warhead” and therefore violated an international resolution.

Under UN Security Council resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon” to refrain from conducting “any activity” related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, “including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

The Trump administration, which previously accused Rouhani’s government of failing to comply with the “spirit” of the nuclear deal, swiftly imposed sanctions on six Iranian companies for their role in the country’s ballistic missile program in response to the rocket launch.

Haley will meet next week with members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is tasked with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the deal, as part of a fact-finding mission to investigate the extent of Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The trip is part of a policy review ordered by President Donald Trump in April to evaluate Iran’s adherence to the 2015 agreement. The administration said the review will be completed before the deal is up for recertification in October.

If Trump rejects certification, his administration can reapply sanctions that were suspended under the pact.

Similar to Trump, Haley has repeatedly criticized the deal for empowering Iran and Russia while handicapping U.S. leverage over the Rouhani regime.

US Diplomacy: When failure became an accepted option

August 15, 2017

US Diplomacy: When failure became an accepted option, Israel National News, Meir Jolovitz, August 15, 2017

(Please see also, President [Rouhani of Iran]: Iran Could Swiftly Return to Pre-JCPOA Conditions. — DM)

For what it’s worth, future historians will judge the North Korean crisis as the less significant one of our generation – simply because China is able to control it. The more formidable and dangerous threat is the nuclearization of Iran. The occasional terror attacks in Europe, murderous as they are, pale in comparison.

In kind, the geopolitical threat that has already been unleashed – remarkably with more support than opposition by the West – is the facilitation of an Iranian nuclear capability. With the overt and covert support of the Obama Administration – despite its denials – the Iranians were fast changing the rules of the game. Unless stopped forcibly in the next year or two, Iran will be in possession of the bomb. Correction: bombs.

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It’s been said by many, in various forms, that “hindsight is everyone’s favorite perspective.”  The problem is, few grasp when “it” is happening until “it” has happened.

Political analysts and pundits are seemingly in concert: the most disquieting crisis that confronts our world today is the realization that North Korea presents a horrifying threat that remains unchecked. It didn’t have to be.

When Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017, admitted this past week that the two-decade-old US strategy on preventing North Korea from obtaining a nuclear capability was a “failure,” our hindsight was offered some unclouded perspective.

And yet, it was her other comments that made us understand that the lessons of history remain unlearned. Rice, with a criticism directed at President Donald Trump, opined that pragmatism dictates that we should simply accept, and tolerate, a nuclear North Korea.  Worse was the quiet acquiescence:  “The fact of the matter is, that despite all of these efforts, the North Korean regime has been able to succeed in progressing with its program, both nuclear and missile. That’s a very unfortunate outcome; but we are where we are.” Rice added: “It will require being pragmatic.

Pause to laugh, and cry.

Trump, luckily, did not hire Rice as an adviser, and did what he thought was right.

In 1967, a couple of years before he achieved notoriety as the controversial founder and voice of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane coauthored a book – The Jewish Stake in Vietnam –  whose implications were largely ignored. One might still find it on the shelves of some antiquarian book store, but the book is largely lost. Its relevance, decades lately, offers food for serious thought.

While the book’s theoretical message was clear, the practical implications remain undeniable.

The radical rabbi argued that the anti-Vietnam war sentiment that had targeted the hearts and minds of a confused American population that was increasingly drawn to slogans of “peace,” “liberation,” and “democratic freedom” – would pressure its government to abandon an ally, South Vietnam. The implication, seemingly unthinkable even to Jewish liberals in the aftermath of Israel’s victory in the Six Day War, was that if the United States could not stand firm in its commitment to support an ally in Southeast Asia, it would one day be willing to abandon its commitment to its only ally in the Middle East as well. Ergo, the Jewish state.

Times have changed, and with it, America’s foreign policy. Israel is no longer considered America’s only ally in a still-troubled Middle East. In fact, the United States counts many, mostly as a result of a misbegotten reinterpretation of what allies are, thanks in great measure to the US State Department’s purposeful redefinition of American interests in the region.

One recalls the comment most often attributed to Charles de Gaulle: “Nations don’t have friends, only interests.”

Despite the very strong relationship that ostensibly exists between President Trump and Israel – at great contrast with that of his predecessor – his State Department and the National Security Council are still adherents of ‘interests before friends’. And, they mistakenly and quite foolishly attribute American interests to the wrong side. Governed by the belief that the “occupied” territories and the settlements are the reason of the impasse to the conflict between Muslims and Jews, Trump is ready to dispatch his son-in-law to once again bridge the unbridgeable gap.

In an oil-thirsty world, the Muslim states (we include here of course, the Islamic Republic of Iran) seemed to have gained a leverage that was simply unthinkable in 1967. The Europeans seemed the first to turn the other cheek when Arab terror spread, still in its nascent stages – mostly one would think, because it was not their cheeks that were being most often slapped.

Over the years, the terror in Europe proliferated. And correlatively, so did the finger of blame that was directed at Israel. As long as the Muslim antipathy was directed at the Jewish State – and more telling, Jews everywhere – the Europeans would assuage the perpetrators. It was Israel that was called to make compromises, territorial and (axiomatically) ideological. The more threatening and damaging the terror, the more shrill the calls for Israeli capitulation.

Undeniably, the greatest threat to the ever-elusive peace in the Middle East, and the invariable spill-over of violence into a Europe that is fast becoming a battlefield, is the terror that so many of its nations have voluntarily imported with the jihadis who carry the torch of Islam.

For what it’s worth, future historians will judge the North Korean crisis as the less significant one of our generation – simply because China is able to control it. The more formidable and dangerous threat is the nuclearization of Iran. The occasional terror attacks in Europe, murderous as they are, pale in comparison.

In kind, the geopolitical threat that has already been unleashed – remarkably with more support than opposition by the West – is the facilitation of an Iranian nuclear capability. With the overt and covert support of the Obama Administration – despite its denials – the Iranians were fast changing the rules of the game. Unless stopped forcibly in the next year or two, Iran will be in possession of the bomb. Correction: bombs.

Meanwhile, the new Trump foreign policy team, despite its frequent criticism of the Obama-Iran nuke deal, has yet to do anything significant. Worse, it has twice certified that Iran remains compliant. Of a deal that Trump called “the worst in diplomatic history.”

Yes, allies are often sacrificed on the mantle of political expedience. The US national security apparatus prefers to call it pragmatism.

And count on it. Susan Rice will one day again be interviewed by the New York Times and CNN, in a joint appearance with President Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, admitting another failure. This will be the statement that they will issue: “The fact of the matter is, that despite all of these efforts, the Iranian regime been able to succeed in progressing with its program, both nuclear and missile. That’s a very unfortunate outcome; but we are where we are.” McMaster, resplendent in his uniform and its military regalia, will add: “It will require being pragmatic.”

After all, we are where we are!

Today, despite the unmistakable danger that Iran poses to Israel directly, it is more than simply a Jewish stake. This is an American interest. The message is quite clear. The practical implications are quite ominous. Let us hope Trump deals with Iran as he is dealing with North Korea.

Pause to cry.

Meir Jolovitz is a past national executive director of the Zionist Organization of America, and formerly associated with the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies.

President [of Iran]: Iran Could Swiftly Return to Pre-JCPOA Conditions

August 15, 2017

President: Iran Could Swiftly Return to Pre-JCPOA Conditions, Tasnim News Agency, (Iranian), August 15, 2017

(This appears to be an acknowledgment that — despite the JCPOA or because of its gaping loopholes —  Iran has continued its development of nuclear weapons and/or that its collaboration with North Korea has continued to flourish. Thanks again, President Reject Obama. — DM)

If the US opts to repeat its previous experiences, Iran will be capable of returning to conditions “much more advanced” in comparison to the pre-negotiations era in a short time – not a week or a month but within hours, he added.

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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Should the US government decide to repeat the failed experience of imposing sanctions on Iran, Tehran can immediately acquire capabilities in its nuclear industry that would be much more advanced than those prior to the JCPOA negotiations, Iran’s president said.

The new US administration should know that failure of Washington’s policy of anti-Iran sanctions prompted it to go to the negotiating table with Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, in an address to a parliamentary session to defend his proposed list of ministers.

If the US opts to repeat its previous experiences, Iran will be capable of returning to conditions “much more advanced” in comparison to the pre-negotiations era in a short time – not a week or a month but within hours, he added.

Describing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany), as a symbol of peace and diplomacy’s victory over war and unilateralism, President Rouhani underscored that the JCPOA is not and will not be “the only option” for Iran.

He also pointed to US president’s repeated threats of ripping up the nuclear deal, saying Trump has been advised by his aides to accuse Iran of violating the spirit of the JCPOA for fear of US isolation in the international community in case of abandoning the nuclear deal.

Despite US claims, President Rouhani noted, seven reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have confirmed Iran’s full commitment to the JCPOA.

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup

August 14, 2017

Iran Sending Warships to Atlantic Ocean Amid Massive New Military Buildup, Washington Free Beacon, August 14, 2017

Iranian military ship and light replenishment ship are seen docked for refueling / Getty Images)

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Trump under NKorean and Iranian missile siege

July 29, 2017

Trump under NKorean and Iranian missile siege, DEBKAfile, July 29, 2017

But the fact is that Iran was not trying this time to put a satellite in orbit. Its objective, for which a big step was taken forward, was to perfect the technology for building missiles able to carry small nuclear warheads, as well as carriers for boosting military and spy satellites into space.

President Barack Obama, hell bent on a deal, gave in to Tehran’s demand to leave its missile program out of the accord. Iran was left free to pursue its ballistic missile program unchecked by international law up until now.

Therefore, when on Thursday, the US Senate slapped sanctions on Iran as punishment for its missile tests, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran was formally within its rights Saturday in affirming “Iran’s inalienable right” to develop missiles “in compliance with its international obligations.”

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In the same 48-hour time frame, North Korea and Iran both managed to rattle the West by successfully testing advanced missiles. Thursday, July 27, Tehran launched a “Simorgh” rocket, which is capable of carrying a 250-kg satellite into space. The next day, Pyongyang test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile, an improved version of the Hwasong 14, first tested three weeks earlier.

President Donald Trump was discovering that sanctions are no deterrent.

The depth of the dismay in the West may explain why none of the experts dared mention the even more troubling fact which has been known for some time: Iran and North Korea are longstanding partners in their long-range missile programs. Each maintains experts at the other’s development facilities.

On July 28, the Hwasong 14 flew 47 minutes over a distance of 3,724km before dropping into the Sea of Japan. Kim Jong-un boasted: “The test confirmed that all the US mainland is within striking range,” confirming the new estimate that North Korea’s latest ICBMs can now reach major American cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.

That was his delighted response to the latest round of US sanctions.

Iran was less forthcoming about its latest test, without however neglecting to underline its success. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources confirm that Iran’s success was no less impressive than North Korea’s – and just as dangerous. The Simorgh, aka Safir-3, is the fruit of years of Iranian development and many failed tests on the way to achieving a satellite-carrying rocket as the basis for nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.

US military sources tried to present the Iranian test as another flop, only admitting at length that “the only thing we know for sure is that no satellite was put into orbit.” Like the Americans with regard to Iran, Russian military sources tried play down the North Korean success by tossing it off as an ordinary, medium-range ballistic missile.

But the fact is that Iran was not trying this time to put a satellite in orbit. Its objective, for which a big step was taken forward, was to perfect the technology for building missiles able to carry small nuclear warheads, as well as carriers for boosting military and spy satellites into space.

Tehran was extremely cagey with details about its success. The Safir-2, built around components of the North Korean BM-25 ballistic missile, which too derived from the Soviet R-27 fired from submarines, was able to attain an estimated range of 3,000-4,000km. The Simorgh or Safir-3 tested this week was an advanced version of its predecessor. The two-stage version, powered by solid fuel, is believed to have an improved range of 7,500km.

Two years ago, when Iran placed an imaging rocket into orbit during February 2015, Israeli rocket experts established that these rockets were also capable of striking any point that Iran may chose. Tehran was therefore well ahead of Pyongyang in its ability to stage a missile attack on the United States mainland – except that this discovery was eclipsed at the time by the Iranian nuclear negotiations nearing conclusion with six world powers, led by the United States.

President Barack Obama, hell bent on a deal, gave in to Tehran’s demand to leave its missile program out of the accord. Iran was left free to pursue its ballistic missile program unchecked by international law up until now.

Therefore, when on Thursday, the US Senate slapped sanctions on Iran as punishment for its missile tests, the Foreign Ministry in Tehran was formally within its rights Saturday in affirming “Iran’s inalienable right” to develop missiles “in compliance with its international obligations.”

In another event tied to Iran’s missiles, Saudi Arabia Thursday, July 26, announced the interception of “a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi insurgents against the holy city of Mecca.” The defense ministry in Riyadh said the missile had been shot down some 69km away from Mecca, causing no damage or casualties.

The Saudis have for some months accused Iran of supplying the Yemeni insurgents with Fatteh-110 missiles for targeting Saudi cities, including the capital, Riyadh. They had expected President Donald Trump to hit back at Iran. However, other than reprimanding Tehran for hostile action against the “US partner Saudi Arabia,” no tangible US action was forthcoming – only fresh sanctions, which don’t cut much ice in Tehran or Pyongyang.

Donald Trump’s six-month presidency is clearly under siege. On top of the bucketfuls of trouble landing on his head at home, he is being pushed against a wall by America’s enemies in two world regions – the Far East and the Middle East.

Iran poised to launch rocket into space, as North Korea readies another missile test, US officials say

July 26, 2017

Iran poised to launch rocket into space, as North Korea readies another missile test, US officials say, Fox NewsLucas Tomlinson, July 26, 2017

While Iran insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, officials have long said any components used to put a satellite into orbit can also be used for building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

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Two American foes are poised for upcoming rocket launches, two senior U.S. officials told Fox News, with another North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile launch expected as soon as Wednesday night and Iran on the verge of sending its own vehicle into space.

Iran’s Simorgh space-launch vehicle is believed to be carrying a satellite, marking the second time in over a year that Tehran has attempted to put an operational satellite into orbit — something the Islamic Republic has never done successfully, according to one of the officials who has not authorized to discuss a confidential assessment.

Iran’s last space launch in April 2016 failed to place a satellite into orbit, the official said.

The intelligence community is currently monitoring Iran’s Semnan launch center, located about 140 miles east of Tehran, where officials say the “first and second stage airframes” have been assembled on a launch pad and a space launch is expected “at any time,” according to the official.

Just days after President Trump took office, Iran conducted its first ballistic missile test under the new administration, prompting the White House to put Tehran “on notice.” Since then there have been other ballistic missile and cruise missile tests, including one from a midget submarine in early May — a type of submarine used by both Iran and North Korea.

North Korea and Iran have long been accused of sharing missile technology.

“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

U.S. officials are skeptical, however, that North Korea and Iran are coordinating their rocket and missile launches.

While Iran insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, officials have long said any components used to put a satellite into orbit can also be used for building an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States.

U.N. resolution 2231 says Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology,” according to the text of the agreement which went into effect days after the landmark Iran nuclear agreement that was engineered by the Obama administration.

Critics have said that language was purposefully watered down to “called upon” instead of a more restrictive phrase because Russia intervened.

In a sign Congress is losing patience with both Iran and North Korea, the House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed (419-3) new sanctions targeting Iran, North Korea and Russia, due in part to Iran and North Korea’s missile programs.

News of Iran’s pending rocket launch coincides with more evidence North Korea is also preparing to test another ICBM, perhaps as early as Wednesday night — a date that would coincide with the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, which ended the fighting in the Korean War, but technically not the war itself.

U.S. officials say North Korea has recently moved fueling equipment and trucks to a launch pad near the town of Kusong, near North Korea’s border with China and about 100 miles north of the capital city of Pyongyang.

North Korea has a history of conducting missile tests on historic dates.

North Korea’s first successful launch of a long-range missile capable of reaching Alaska — a rocket the Pentagon now calls the KN-20 — occurred on July 4th, while the U.S. celebrated Independence Day.

That North Korean ICBM traveled some 1,700 miles into space, seven times higher than the orbit of NASA’s International Space Station. It is not clear, however, if the rocket’s “reentry” vehicle successfully returned to earth in one piece after it splashed down in the Sea of Japan hundreds of miles off the Korean peninsula.

Officials believe a new test of North Korea’s KN-20 is for the purpose of testing the reentry vehicle.

Iran may withdraw from N-deal for “US violations

July 18, 2017

Iran may withdraw from N-deal for “US violations, DEBKAfile, July 18, 2017

(Why not? Iran has already received all of the substantial U.S. financial benefits of the Iran Scam. Withdrawal would allow Iran to pursue its nuclear objectives without the minor conveniences of trying to hide them. Please see also, Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program: On Course, Underground, Uninspected. — DM)

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told a National Interest interview Tuesday: “If it comes to a major [US] violation, or what in the terms of the nuclear deal is called significant nonperformance, then Iran has other options available, including withdrawing from the deal.” This was his rejoinder to the Trump administration’s statement in certifying that Iran was in compliance of the nuclear deal while “in default of its spirit.”