Trump plans to declare that the nuclear deal is not in the national interest of the United States and kick the issue to a reluctant Congress, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the White House strategy.
The report comes just days before Trump has to report to Congress whether or not Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he argues that Iran is not in compliance, that could cause an American withdrawal from the international pact.
Trump has desperately sought a pretext to scrap or weaken the JCPOA and get rid of the limits it imposes on the US ability to pursue more hostile policies against Iran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently reported that Iran is complying with the agreement.
In a letter to Trump on Wednesday, at least 180 members of the US Congress called on Trump to endorse the Iran nuclear deal, saying an American withdrawal from the pact would be against the interests of the US and its allies.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Trump must consider remaining a party to the nuclear deal because the international accord serves US interests.
Last month, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also acknowledged that Tehran was in “technical compliance” with the 2015 nuclear agreement.
The remarks by the Pentagon chief and the top US diplomat were in sharp contrast with Trump’s assessment that the nuclear agreement is an “embarrassment” to the US.
The US Republican president faces an October 15 deadline for certifying that Iran is complying with the deal. Such certification is needed by US law every 90 days in order for Congress to continue to withhold nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, itself a US commitment under the JCPOA.
The Trump administration has twice certified Iran’s compliance with the deal.