House Members Confused About Trump’s Position on Iran Deal

WASHINGTON – Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concluded that Iran was abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). At the same time, Tillerson also announced, “The JCPOA fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran.” President Donald Trump has also called the agreement with Tehran “the horrible Iran deal” while noting on that Iran wasn’t “living up to the spirit of the agreement. We’re analyzing it very, very carefully and we’ll have something to say about it in the not-too-distant future.”

On Capitol Hill, lawmakers have expressed confusion about the White House’s position on this critical foreign policy dilemma. “One of the challenges for this administration is you get four or five different answers on controversial issues, like the Iran deal, depending on who is speaking: whether it is the President, Secretary of State, or White House spokesman,” Representative Joaquin Castro (D-TX) told Jewish Insider. “Our allies don’t know who really speaks for the President. I would like a clear answer for what he believes is the future of that agreement if he intends for the US to stick by it: whether he still sees that as essential to Iran getting rid of its nuclear program.”

Even Republican Members of Congress who are supportive of the President’s agenda could not offer a clear answer regarding the President’s position. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) noted, “I’m not sure he’s (Trump) coalesced around his thoughts.” When pressed if he understood the President’s viewpoint on Iran deal, Farenthold, replied, “I don’t.”

Both in the House and Senate, legislation has been introduced to apply tougher sanctions against Tehran for its ballistic missile program and support for terrorism. However, it remains unclear if the President will sign or veto such a law based on the ambiguity whether he would adhere to the nuclear deal. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster maitained that the international community will eventually come around to support the administration’s policy in confronting Iran over its behavior. “I think all we have to do is pull the curtain back on Iranian behavior,” said McMaster. “Our allies will be interested in doing that, and I think what you’ve seen is, if what has happened in the last eight years, is U.S. policy has unwittingly maybe empowered Iran across the greater Middle East and beyond… And so, what’s critical now is a shift in that policy to confront Iran and what you’re seeing is because of the president’s leadership, really strong relationships across the Arab world, for example, and I think that there’s going to be a tremendous opportunity to confront Iran’s destructive behavior in the region and beyond the region.”

While arguing against tearing up the deal after Iran has already received the sanctions relief, Rep. Jerry Nadler was unable to articulate the President’s stance on the nuclear agreement. “I don’t know. I can’t judge any more than you can,” the New York lawmaker emphasized.

Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) explained, “It is my observance that the Trump administration has opposed that deal from the rhetoric that they have said. As to the exact specifics, I would want you to ask them to articulate their position.”

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.