The Trump administration broke a major campaign promise Monday when it decided to extend Iran's sanction relief under the terms of a nuclear deal signed in 2015.
The administration certified on Monday that Iran was complying with the terms of the agreement. During the presidential election last year, Donald Trump vowed to "rip" the Iran deal upon entering office, a pledge repeated by his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence. Now, however, two years after the signing of the agreement, the administration has avoided taking that step and has chosen to leave the agreement in place for now.
This is the second time since entering office that Trump has certified Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal, something he is required to do every 90 days, in order to stop Congress from re-enforcing the nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
Administration officials stressed on Monday that the Trump White House will work more strictly to enforce the deal, and will also move forward with non-nuclear related sanctions against Iran, which will not violate the terms of the 2015 agreement, but will make it tougher for Iran to continue its de-stabilizing activities in the Middle East. The White House also stated that Iran was "in default" with regards to honoring the "spirit" of the agreement.
According to a report published Monday night in The New York Times, Trump wanted to follow through on his campaign promise and end the nuclear deal as late as last week, but chose to do otherwise after hearing there was complete consensus on the issue among his most senior security and diplomatic advisers, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster and the senior levels of the U.S. military command.
One of the main arguments made by those officials was that ending the agreement with Iran would create a major crisis between the United States and its leading European allies, the second in just a few weeks, following Trump's decision to withdraw from the international Paris climate accord. In addition, the security chiefs warned that such a decision could lead to a potential military escalation in the Middle East.
In his election campaign, Trump attacked previous presidents for becoming unnecessarily involved in foreign military campaigns abroad and vowed not to do the same.