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Nuclear deadlines approach for Trump as protests flare in Iran

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US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he boards Air Force One

US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up to reporters as he boards Air Force One. (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – As demonstrations against the Islamist government rage across Iran, President Donald Trump is facing a series of critical deadlines governing US participation in its nuclear deal with world powers.

Trump will once again face a legal deadline on January 11 to certify the nuclear accord – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – after declining to do so last October, asserting that Tehran’s performance under the deal was not proportional to US-sanctions relief.

The following week, Trump will confront several deadlines – renewed every 120 days – to wave biting sanctions on Iran that the US committed to lift under the nuclear deal.

The Senate parliamentarian is reviewing whether Trump in fact must issue a certification decision to Congress once again this month, or whether his failure to certify it once back in October lets him off the hook from having to issue future certification decisions, sources tell The Jerusalem Post. Senate Foreign Relations Committee members expect clarity on this technical matter at the opening of the next Senate session.

Regardless, Trump will have to issue sanctions waivers if the US is to remain within the letter of the JCPOA. And a wave of unrest in Iran welcomed by the Trump administration may have an impact on how the president proceeds.

Trump linked the nuclear deal with recent protests in Iran on Tuesday morning in a Twitter message, writing: “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets,’” referring to the sanctions relief Iran received immediately upon implementation of the JCPOA. The deal was negotiated under the Obama administration.

“The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights,” Trump continued.

“The US is watching!” Anthems from five days of marches across Iran have suggested a common theme: Frustration with the clerical government’s involvement in foreign wars. “Not Gaza, not Lebanon – My life only for Iran!” goes one chant. “Let Syria be – Do something for me!” goes another.

Upon its completion in 2015, the nuclear deal was polled as widely popular in Iran, seen as a harbinger of economic relief for a country whose economy has remained stagnant for over a decade.

Iranian leaders have claimed that Europe and the US have not abided by the “spirit” of the JCPOA, which calls on world powers to reintegrate Iran into international markets and financial systems.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.

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