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President Trump Refuses to Recertify Iran Nuclear Deal, But No Sanctions Are Reimposed on Iran

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On October 13, 2017, President Trump announced that he would not recertify Iran's compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This paved the way for Congress to reimpose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program through an expedited legislative process, but congressional leaders have declined to do so.

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1 White House Press Release, Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy (Oct. 13, 2017), at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-iran-strategy [https://perma.cc/7JK5-3S5Y] [hereinafter Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy].

2 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, July 14, 2015, 55 ILM 108 (2016) [hereinafter JCPOA].

3 See generally id.; Kristina Daugirdas & Julian Davis Mortenson, Contemporary Practice of the United States, 109 AJIL 649 (2015) (describing the JCPOA and events surrounding its enactment).

4 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114–17, § 2(d)(7)(D), 129 Stat. 201, 207 (2015) (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2011, 2160(e)).

5 Id. § 2(d)(6)(A), 129 Stat. at 207.

6 Id. § 2(e)(3), 129 Stat. at 208.

7 Id. § 2(e)(2)(A)–(B), 129 Stat. at 208.

8 Id. §§ 2(e)(4)(A); 2(e)(5)(B), 129 Stat. at 208–09.

9 Id. §§ 2(e)(4)(C); 2(e)(5)(D), 129 Stat. at 209–10.

10 See id. at § 2(e)(5)(C), 129 Stat. at 209.

11 See IAEA Director General Press Release, Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (Aug. 31, 2017), available at https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/gov2017-35.pdf.

12 See IAEA Director General Press Release, Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 (Nov. 13, 2017), available at https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/17/11/gov2017-48.pdf.

13 UN Secretary-General, Fourth Report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), at 1, UN Doc. S/2017/1030 (Dec. 8, 2017), at http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2017/1030 [hereinafter Secretary-General Report].

14 Kristina Daugirdas & Julian Davis Mortenson, Contemporary Practice of the United States, 111 AJIL 1056 (2017).

15 See Landler, Mark & Sanger, David E., Trump Disavows Nuclear Deal, But Doesn't Scrap It , N.Y. Times (Oct. 13, 2017), at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/13/us/politics/trump-iran-nuclear-deal.html?_r=1.

16 Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy, supra note 1.

17 Id.

19 Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy, supra note 1.

20 Id.

21 Id.

22 Id.; see also U.S. Dep't of Treas. Press Release, Treasury Designates the IRGC Under Terrorism Authority and Targets IRGC and Military Supporters Under Counter-proliferation Authority (Oct. 13, 2017), at https://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/sm0177.aspx[https://perma.cc/58HY-39KW].

23 See JCPOA, supra note 2, para. 26 (committing the United States to refrain from reimposing or reintroducing sanctions it ceased applying on Iran under the JCPOA and from introducing new nuclear-related sanctions); cf. Secretary-General Report, supra note 13, at 1 (noting with respect to the decertification decision that “[a]t present these national executive actions do not affect the validity of the Plan or the respective commitments of the participants contained therein”).

24 Min. of For. Aff. of the Russ. Fed. Press Release, Statement by the Foreign Ministry Regarding Implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's Nuclear Programme (Oct. 13, 2017), at http://www.mid.ru/en/web/guest/about/social_organizations/association/-/asset_publisher/w6CkLeKcy2bQ/content/id/2903939.

25 Office of the British Prime Minister Press Release, Declaration by the Heads of State and Government of France, Germany and the United Kingdom (Oct. 13, 2017), at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/declaration-by-the-heads-of-state-and-government-of-france-germany-and-the-united-kingdom.

26 Speech of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, C-SPAN, at 19:36 (Oct. 13, 2017), at https://www.c-span.org/video/?435714-2/iranian-president-reacts-president-trumps-speech.

27 Id. at 6:17, 18:16.

28 See Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, Pub. L. No. 114–17, § 2(d)–(e), 129 Stat. 201, 207–208 (2015) (providing that the president is to make certification decisions “not less than every 90 calendar days” but not further specifying whether this obligation survives a decision not to certify).

29 Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy, supra note 1.

30 Id.

31 Id.

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