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Group Urges Trump To Honor Nuclear Deal With Iran

| by Nik Bonopartis

Proponents of President Barack Obama's nuclear deal with Iran are pointing to a report by a pro-Iranian interest group in an effort to convince President-elect Donald Trump not to dismantle the agreement.

The report was produced by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group dedicated to increasing the influence of Iranian-Americans in politics and bettering relations between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In 2015 NIAC formed a lobbyist arm, NIAC Action, to advocate for the nuclear deal with Iran, which lifts sanctions against the Islamic Republic in exchange for a series of steps designed to reduce Iran's ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Under the terms of the deal, Iran's nuclear facilities will be reworked to focus exclusively on nuclear energy, the country's nuclear enrichment program will be almost entirely eliminated, and the Iranian government will provide full access to nuclear inspectors who will monitor Iran's cooperation.

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Trump was highly critical of the nuclear deal during the presidential campaign, calling it "disgraceful" and "an embarrassment to our country."

"We're getting nothing from this deal," Trump told Fox News in 2015, shortly after Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart announced successful negotiations.

The NIAC report, released Nov. 13, was signed by 76 political figures and academics who urged Trump not to dismantle the agreement, The New York Times reported. Figures who support the NIAC's report include political veterans from both major U.S. parties.

The report argues that the deal is key to preventing further destabilization in the Middle East, and urges Trump's administration "to build on shared interests and peacefully manage differences" between the two countries.

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The NIAC acknowledged significant disagreements between Iran and the U.S. regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran's support for Hezbollah. It also acknowledged that "Iran’s willingness and ability to engage with the U.S. on regional matters has not yet been fully tested," and conceded that there are internal factions within Iran that would work against honoring the deal, including possibly Iran's Supreme Leader, Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

But the U.S. can continue to strengthen its relationship with Iran by pursuing common interests, the report's authors argued.

For example, in the fight against the Islamic State, "interests are largely overlapping and both sides would benefit from increased collaboration and coordination," the report said.

But NIAC isn't the only group looking to gain the president-elect's ear on diplomacy with Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was highly critical of the deal and maintained a notoriously frosty relationship with Obama. With Obama's term ending and a new era beginning under Trump, the Israeli press has been buzzing about the possibilities of working with Trump, who seems generally more sympathetic to Israeli causes.

A Nov. 15 story in the Times of Israel advocates keeping the nuclear deal framework in place, but also appeals to Trump to improve what it says are significant flaws of the deal, including sunset provisions and limitations on inspections.

"Serious questions arise, however, with regard to what each side has been gaining – and losing – from the deal," the authors argue, "and make it imperative for the next president to take steps to strengthen compliance, and deliver new messages of determination to Iran."

Sources: The New York Times, Times of Israel, NIAC, Fox News / Photo credit: seysd shahaboddin vajedi via Wikimedia Commons

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