WASHINGTON - More than 180 members of Congress signed a letter to U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday urging him to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran, unless he can present "credible evidence of a material breach" of it by the Iranians. The letter was initiated by Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who voted against the nuclear deal in 2015, and by another Democrat, North Carolina Rep. David Price, who supported the deal. As of Tuesday night, all the signatories on the letter were Democrats.
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"Some of us voted for, and some against, the nuclear agreement with Iran," read the letter. "Nonetheless, we are united in our belief that enforcing this 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."
The letter comes just 11 days before Trump has to report to Congress on whether or not Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he states that Iran is not in compliance, that could potentially lead to an American withdrawal from the international agreement, and to its eventual collapse. In recent weeks, both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff have reported that Iran is not breaching the agreement.
In their letter to Trump, the signatories say that "absent credible and accurate information confirming a material breach, we are concerned that withholding certification of Iran's compliance or walking away from the [nuclear deal] would harm our alliances, embolden Iran, and threaten U.S. National security." They added that so far, no such evidence has been presented to Congress.
The members clarified that they "share concerns about Iran's activities in the region, including its ballistic missile development, support for proxies and terror groups, violations of the human rights of its people, and backing of the Assad regime." They ended their letter by calling on Trump to implement "vigorous enforcement" of the nuclear deal.
On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said while testifying before the Senate that he believed it was in line with the national security interests of the United States to keep the nuclear deal in place. Recent news reports have suggested that Trump is considering to decertify the deal and then leave it to Congress whether or not to impose new sanctions on Iran, a move that would likely lead to the collapse of the deal.
Trump is expected to address the deal in a speech scheduled for next Thursday, though it remains unclear what exactly he will say.