Trump to outline tougher strategy on Iran

US president to outline three key goals in speech: fixing 'flawed' nuclear deal, addressing Tehran's ballistic missile programme and countering its destabilising activities in region

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to introduce his Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Kirstjen Nielsen in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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US president Donald Trump will outline a tougher US strategy for countering Iran on Friday that will seek to strengthen the enforcement of what he considers a flawed nuclear deal and deny funding for Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction," Mr Trump said in a White House statement that laid out key elements of the strategy.

Mr Trump is to deliver a speech at 12.45pm US Eastern time (8.45pm UAE) to announce a confrontational new approach to US policy toward Iran.

In a big shift, he is expected to say he will not certify Iran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear accord negotiated by world powers including the US under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

The new strategy will include three key goals:

  • Fixing the nuclear deal to make it harder for Iran to develop a weapon 
  • Addressing its ballistic missile programme
  • Countering Iranian activities that Washington says contribute to instability in the Middle East

Mr Trump believes the current deal will allow Iran to eventually develop a weapon. Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and denies it is developing nuclear weapons.

As the administration announced its plan for Iran, Republican senators Bob Corker and Tom Cotton said they had developed legislation intended to address what they see as deficiencies in the Iran nuclear deal.

In a proposed legislative framework, they offered a plan to automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran’s nuclear programme were to get to a point where Tehran could develop a nuclear weapon in less than one year, known as a “breakout” period.

They said their measure, if passed by Congress, would remain in force indefinitely, lead to tougher inspections and limit Iran’s centrifuge development.

It was unclear what chance the measure, expected to be offered as an amendment to the existing Iran nuclear review law, would have of winning enough support to be passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate.

The measure’s backers said their intention was to set conditions to halt Iran’s nuclear programme and provide time “for diplomacy and pressure to work.”

Con Coughlin opinion: Why Donald Trump is prepared to ditch the Iran nuclear deal

Trump's intent with his new strategy is to expand US policy beyond just the nuclear agreement and take steps to address other Iranian behaviour.

"The United States’ new Iran strategy focuses on neutralising the government of Iran’s destabilising influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants," the White House statement said.

It said Mr Trump would work to deny funding for the Iranian government, particularly its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

"We will rally the international community to condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights and its unjust detention of American citizens and other foreigners on specious charges," the White House said.

"Most importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon."

* With Reuters