John Bolton says there is no reason for these quarterly recertifications:
He addresses the partner-in-good-faith issue by stating forthrightly what America's priority ought to be:Certification is an unforced error because the applicable statute (the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, or “INARA”) requires neither certifying Iranian compliance nor certifying Iranian noncompliance. Paula DeSutter and I previously explained that INARA requires merely that the Secretary of State (to whom President Obama delegated the task) “determine…whether [he] is able to certify” compliance (emphasis added). The secretary can satisfy the statute simply by “determining” that he is not prepared for now to certify compliance and that U.S. policy is under review.This is a policy of true neutrality while the review continues. Certifying compliance is far from neutral. Indeed, it risks damaging American credibility should a decision subsequently be made to abrogate the deal.
Within the Trump administration, JCPOA supporters contend that rejecting the deal would harm the United States by calling into question our commitment to international agreements generally. There is ominous talk of America “not living up to its word.”
This is nonsense. The president’s primary obligation is to keep American citizens safe from foreign threats. Should President George W. Bush have kept the United States in the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, rather than withdraw to allow the creation of a limited national missile-defense shield to protect against rogue-state nuclear attacks? Was Washington’s “commitment” to the ABM Treaty more important than protecting innocent civilians from nuclear attacks by the ayatollahs or North Korea’s Kim family dictatorship?
Similarly, President Bush directed that we unsign the treaty creating the International Criminal Court because we had no intention of ever becoming a party. Was he also wrong to extricate American service members and intelligence personnel — not to mention ordinary citizens — from the risk of arbitrary, unjustified and politically motivated ICC detention and prosecution?
Of course, the answer is “no.” The president would be derelict in his duty if he failed to put the interests of U.S. citizens first, rather than worrying about “the international community” developing a case of the vapors. The Trump administration itself has already shown the courage of its convictions by withdrawing from the Paris climate accords. Compared to that, abrogating the JCPOA is a one-inch putt.Strieff at Red State says that determining an inability to certify is a de facto acknowledgement of Iranian compliance:
The rub is that under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) it is left to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to vet Iranian compliance and, absent a negative report, the administration has to either abrogate the agreement arbitrarily or it has to begrudgingly recertify Iran as being in compliance.Now, the US is free to impose more sanctions on Iran due to its ongoing provable hostile moves, and strieff notes several that are in the works.
But the best he can muster in terms of arguing that we can't just pull out altogether is to say that we'd take "a major diplomatic hit."
I think Bolton effectively rebuts this case. When US interests, most urgently its national security, are at stake, we can hardly be concerned with "'the international community' developing a case of the vapors."