WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has certified that Iran continues to comply with a 2015 nuclear agreement that President Trump denounced during the campaign as “the worst deal ever.”
The certification decision, announced late Tuesday night, means that the administration has extended relief from sanctions given to the Iranian government in exchange for constraints on its nuclear program.
But the certification was grudging, delivered just 90 minutes before a midnight deadline and with a headline in a news release announcing, “Iran Continues to Sponsor Terrorism.”
In his letter to Speaker Paul Ryan making the certification, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson wrote that the Trump administration was in the midst of an interagency review of the nuclear deal that will evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran under terms of the nuclear agreement “is vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
The Trump administration has sought since its earliest days in office to increase pressure on Iran, with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn walking into the White House briefing room in the administration’s first two weeks to declare that the administration was “officially putting Iran on notice” after a ballistic missile launch.
But the administration has found to its frustration that there is no way to renegotiate the nuclear deal, and that canceling the deal would likely cause significant problems. Instead, the administration has imposed sanctions for activities not covered in the agreement, and it has ramped up military efforts to confront Iranian proxies in Yemen and elsewhere.