WASHINGTON -- Democrats in the House of Representatives were near unanimous on Wednesday in their call on President Donald Trump to certify Iran's compliance with its nuclear deal with world powers, absent any hard evidence to the contrary.Over 180 members of the 194-member caucus– including several who disapproved of the deal when it was brokered in 2015– wrote a letter to the president encouraging him to "keep America's word" and maintain its diplomatic credibility by sticking with the multilateral accord."Some of us voted for, and some of us voted against, the nuclear agreement with Iran," the October 4 letter, written by Congressmen Ted Deutch of Florida and David Price of North Carolina. "Nonetheless, we are united in our belief that enforcing the agreement to the fullest extent will provide the United States with more leverage to stop a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program and push back on Iran's destabilizing activities." Under a US law that allows Congress to review the agreement over time, Trump is required every 90 days to certify Iran is complying with the agreement, that it "in no way violates" America's commitments to Israel's security, and that the continued suspension of sanctions are in the national security interest. Trump's next deadline is October 15, and administration officials have strongly hinted that he plans to decertify.But there's dissent in his ranks. His defense secretary, James Mattis, told Senators on Tuesday that remaining within the deal was in America's national security interests: "If we can confirm that Iran is living by the agreement, if we can determine that this is in our best interest, then clearly we should stay with it," he said.One author of the letter skeptical of the nuclear accord said that its flaws could only be fixed by remaining within the agreement, and maintaining the trust of America's international partners.
"We forced Iran to the negotiating table in the first place because of the multilateral sanctions imposed on Iran by the US and our global partners," said Deutch, who in 2015 voted against the accord. "Now, we need the help of this international coalition to keep up the pressure on Iran for its other malign activities outside of the JCPOA– its support for terrorism, its gross human rights violations, and its ballistic missile weapons program." "If President Trump decertifies Iranian compliance without clear evidence of Iranian violations, it will jeopardize this united front against Iran," he continued. "The JCPOA is an imperfect agreement, but to address the problematic provisions including the sunset clauses, we will need stay in lockstep with our global partners."
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis suggests sticking with Iran nuclear deal, October 3, 2017. (Reuters)