Key US lawmakers back enforcing, not ditching, Iran pact

Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee Ed Royce (above) believes the deal should be enforced. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Republican chairman of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee said on Wednesday (Oct 11) the international nuclear deal with Iran should be strictly enforced, but did not call for an end to the agreement, saying Washington should work with allies.

"As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it," Representative Ed Royce said at a hearing.

US President Donald Trump is expected to announce as soon as on Thursday a new strategy for Iran that could include a first step toward Washington exiting the agreement.

Royce, like every other Republican in the US Congress, opposed the nuclear agreement reached under President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in 2015 and signed by the United States, Iran, China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union.

But several of Obama's fellow Democrats also opposed the deal, including Representative Eliot Engel, the ranking Democrat on the foreign affairs panel.

Engel said at the hearing that killing the deal would be a"grave mistake", since it is in place and backed by US allies and other powers.

"We need to work with allies and partners on a shared agenda that holds the regime in Iran accountable, not dividing America from our closest friends across the globe," he said.

Trump is expected to announce an "overall Iran strategy,"including whether to decertify the international deal curbing Teheran's nuclear programme ahead of an Oct 15 deadline.

If Trump declines to certify the Iran deal, it would open a 60-day window in which US congressional leaders could move quickly to reimpose sanctions on Teheran suspended under the agreement. That could be a first step toward Washington existing the agreement, something strongly opposed by European allies.

If Congress does not act, however, it would leave the agreement in place. Many congressional sources and others familiar with the process say the Trump administration is considering using decertification to increase pressure on Teheran, not to end the deal.

Iranian officials have said they will not renegotiate.

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