WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump will outline a tougher U.S. strategy for countering Iran on Friday that will seek to strengthen the enforcement of what he considers a flawed nuclear deal and deny funding for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction," Trump said in a White House statement that laid out key elements of the strategy.
Trump is to deliver a speech at 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT) to announce a confrontational new approach to U.S. policy toward Iran. In a big shift, he is expected to say he will not certify Iran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear accord negotiated by world powers including Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
The new strategy will include three key goals: Fixing the nuclear deal to make it harder for Iran to develop a weapon, addressing its ballistic missile programme and countering Iranian activities that Washington says contribute to instability in the Middle East.
Trump believes the nuclear deal as it is now structured will eventually allow Iran to develop a weapon and wants to toughen U.S. policy to prohibit that eventuality. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and denies it is developing nuclear weapons.
As the administration announced its plan for Iran, Republican Senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton said they had developed legislation intended to address what they see as deficiencies in the Iran nuclear deal.
In a proposed legislative framework, they offered a plan to automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran’s nuclear programme were to get to a point where Tehran could develop a nuclear weapon in less than one year, known as a “breakout” period.
They said their measure, if passed by Congress, would remain in force indefinitely, lead to tougher inspections and limit Iran’s centrifuge development.
It was unclear what chance the measure, expected to be offered as an amendment to the existing Iran nuclear review law, would have of winning enough support to be passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate.
The measure’s backers said their intention was to set conditions to halt Iran’s nuclear programme and provide time “for diplomacy and pressure to work.”
Trump's intent with his new strategy is to expand U.S. policy beyond just the nuclear agreement and take steps to address other Iranian behaviour.
"The United States’ new Iran strategy focuses on neutralizing the government of Iran’s destabilising influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants," the White House fact sheet said.
The White House statement said Trump would work to deny funding for the Iranian government, particular its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
"We will rally the international community to condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights and its unjust detention of American citizens and other foreigners on specious charges," the White House said.
"Most importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon," it said.
(Reporting By Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)