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Trump Set to Decertify — But Not Scrap — Iran Nuclear Deal


FILE - U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (L-3rd L) meet with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (2nd R) at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, June 28, 2015, as the deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran approaches.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to decertify the Iran nuclear agreement next week but stop short of completely scrapping the deal, according to media reports.

Trump will declare it is not in U.S. national security interests to certify the 2015 deal that Washington reached with Iran and five other countries, say officials quoted in the reports.

The move would launch a 60-day period during which Congress must decide whether to reimpose some or all of the economic sanctions that had been lifted as part of the agreement.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani defended the nuclear deal Saturday, saying not even 10 Donald Trumps can roll back gains made by Iran, state TV reported. It broadcast Rouhani while addressing students at Tehran University, marking the beginning of the educational year.

"We have achieved benefits that are irreversible. Nobody can roll them back, neither Trump, nor 10 other Trumps,'' he said.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with Senior Military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Oct. 5, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with Senior Military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Oct. 5, 2017.

Rouhani warned the U.S. not to violate the deal. "If the United States violates [the nuclear deal], the entire world will condemn America, not Iran,'' he said.

Many Republicans and Democrats are opposed to reinstating sanctions, which would effectively kill the agreement, and reports suggest Trump may hold off on urging Congress to do so.

Trump, a self-proclaimed master negotiator, has called the pact "one of the dumbest deals ever" and repeatedly suggested that he may do away with it.

Speaking late Thursday, Trump said Iran has "not lived up to the spirit" of the agreement. "You'll be hearing about Iran very shortly," he said before meeting with military leaders.

Trump, a former reality television host, later made a cryptic reference to the "calm before the storm." When reporters asked what he was talking about, Trump responded: "You'll find out."

WATCH: Trump Comment During Photo Op With Generals

Trump Talks of 'Calm Before the Storm' During Photo Op with US Generals
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White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to clarify the comments, saying "you'll have to wait and see."

"As we've said many times before... we're never going to say in advance what the president is going to do," Sanders said at a Friday press briefing.

"We are looking at something that is a broad strategy that doesn't just address one part of Iran's bad behavior, but a wide range of issues," she added.

If Trump takes steps to abandon the nuclear deal, he would be going against the advice of his top national security leaders, including Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford.

Dunford and Mattis have both told lawmakers they believe staying in the pact is in the U.S. national security interest. They also say Iran is abiding by the terms of the deal, an assertion echoed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Under U.S. law, the president must certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal and that it is in U.S. interests to stay in the agreement. Trump has twice certified the deal, but done so unhappily, reports suggest.

The next certification deadline is October 15. Trump could address the Iran issue in a speech that White House officials say is likely to occur on the 12th. Trump is also expected to lay out his wider strategy for Iran and the Middle East.

The Trump administration has continued to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism, threatening U.S. allies in the Middle East and testing ballistic missiles. Trump has publicly lamented that the agreement does not cover these issues.

Iranian officials have stressed that the deal is not up for renegotiation. Rouhani has threatened to leave the deal "within hours" if the U.S. imposes new sanctions.