News 11 October 2017

Prime Minister May urges President Trump to recertify JCPOA

On 10 October, the office of the UK Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Prime Minister ‘tonight spoke with Donald Trump ahead of the US President’s upcoming decision on recertifying the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – ‘JCPOA’]. The Prime Minister reaffirmed the UK’s strong commitment to the deal alongside our European partners, saying it was vitally important for regional security. The Prime Minister stressed that it was important that the deal was carefully monitored and properly enforced.’

The office noted that ‘Mrs May and the President also discussed the need for the UK, US and others to work together to counter destabilising Iranian activity in the region,’ and that ‘the Prime Minister and President agreed that their teams should remain in contact ahead of the decision on recertification.’

President Trump has said that he has made his decision as to whether the JCPOA should be decertified – but hasn’t told anyone what it is. His announcement is due on or before 15 October.

Ellie Geranmayeh, an analyst at think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations, has explained that decertification ‘is not the same thing as pulling out of the deal altogether. Instead it shifts responsibility for next steps over to Congress, who will have 60 days to respond.’

Congress would be left with three choices, she points out: to reimpose the sanctions that have been eased and attempt to unilaterally renegotiate the deal with Iran; to continue the status quo (which would see the JCPOA left intact); or even to strengthen the JCPOA by removing the current necessity for President Trump to periodically issue certification of Iranian compliance with the deal.

She argues that if the United States does decertify, the European Union and member states will need to work hard to counter the ‘chilling effect’ it will have on the resumption of business with Iran.

‘Even if the US Congress protects the JCPOA, European governments will need to prepare for continual battles with the Trump administration over how the deal is implemented. European actors will need to be far more proactive in fixing existing problems related to the deal and rely less on US cooperation in resolving the banking and financial hurdles currently faced by European companies undertaking legitimate business with Iran,’ she says.