U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses a United Nations Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, April 27.
Drowned out in the ferocious backlash against President Trump's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was perhaps the most thoughtful and telling foreign policy speech of this presidency.
"We will stay in a deal as long as it protects the security of the United States", she said.
"We must consider its history of deception about its nuclear programme". She met with the agency's director and got a technical briefing about Iranian inspections last month that critics said was aimed at finding a peg for USA claims that Iran is cheating.
This is music to the ears of those members who forced Corker-Cardin when they were angry with the deal and wished it away in the first place. "It is a very flawed and very limited agreement". Congress could also debate Iran's support for terrorism, its past nuclear activity and its human rights violations, she added. Heavy water is used as a moderator in a reactor that can produce plutonium. Nine months later, Iran exceeded the heavy water limit again.
US law requires the president to notify Congress every 90 days on whether Iran is adhering to the accord, which aimed to limit Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions related to the program. Iran rejected U.S. demands. "The global community has powerful incentives to go out of its way to assert that the Iranian regime is in "compliance" on the nuclear side".
Critically, included in this supposed "non-nuclear" activity is the IRGC's ongoing development of ballistic missile technology.
Haley tried to blur together the subject of missiles with nuclear activities by saying that "missile technology can not be separated from pursuit of a nuclear weapon".
Asked if the USA would end up isolated for leaving a deal that has buy in from China, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the EU, Haley said Washington's job wasn't to make sure allies were "comfortable". Proven arms smuggling. Violations of travel bans.
Her portrayal of the nuclear agreement was also misleading.
The law sets the requirement that Trump certify Iran's compliance every 90 days. That's the one everyone focuses on.
She said Iran's history, its hostility toward the US have to figure into Donald Trump's calculus when he decides in October whether to certify if Iran is abiding by the deal. "If the President chooses not to certify Iranian compliance, that does not mean the United States is withdrawing from the [deal]". She didn't say he necessarily would. There are a couple serious considerations now. Congress could re-apply nuclear-related sanctions or it could take no action and in effect knock the ball back to the president. So why not just wash his hands of both and let Congress deal? Will our allies abide by these?
"#IAEA verification of Iran compliance with JCPOA is based on terms of agreement; not the ulterior motives of U.S. officials, nor of lobbyists", Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote Saturday on Twitter.
Haley also acknowledged that USA allies in Europe are trying to push Washington to stay in the deal, but added, "This is about U.S. national security". In making this decision, lawmakers and the administration need to be honest about whether they can endure two major nuclear standoffs.
"Leave them be. Don't threaten North Korea so much, and she will pursue her life and that of her people", he said. "The entire world thinks the JCPOA is untouchable", Haley said, "but it's not".