President Donald Trump has instructed aides to find a rationale for declaring Iran in violation of the Obama-era nuclear deal, the New York Times reported Thursday.
Citing several unnamed foreign officials, the Times reported that the United States has raised the possibility of international inspectors demanding access to various military sites in Iran in search of nuclear activity — a suggestion that would be met with Iranian opposition.
Trump has reluctantly signed off on Iran’s compliance with the deal twice since taking office. Such affirmations are required every 90 days. Before his July 17 signature, a slew of top diplomatic and national security adviser urged Trump to stay in the deal, according to the Times, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has been sidelined from many major decisions in recent months.
It seems Trump’s patience is running thin.
On July 21, Foreign Policy reported that Trump had entrusted a group of White House staffers to make the case for withdrawing from the deal. As it’s not a formal treaty but rather an executive agreement initiated during the Obama administration, Trump’s latitude to re-impose sanctions on Iran is broad.
“This is the President telling the White House that he wants to be in a place to decertify 90 days from now and it’s their job to put him there,” an unnamed source close to the White House told the magazine.
The White House’s Iran group, according to three unnamed sources cited by Foreign Policy, is chock full of foreign policy novices and Iran hawks, among them chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, the controversial self-proclaimed counterterrorism export Sebastian Gorka and Michael Anton, whose infamous and anonymously written “The Flight 93 Election” compared the Washington, D.C. political establishment to the 9/11 hijackers.
Trump voters, Anton argued in the piece, needed to storm the metaphorical cockpit to guard against, among other things, “Iran sycophancy.”
According to Foreign Policy, the White House group also included Michael Flynn ally Derek Harvey, who has since been fired.