What Is — And Isn't — Covered By The Iranian Nuclear Deal : Parallels The 2015 nuclear deal raised hopes that Iran might act in a more moderate fashion. But many of Iran's more provocative moves, including ballistic missile tests, aren't subject to the agreement.
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What Is — And Isn't — Covered By The Iranian Nuclear Deal

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What Is — And Isn't — Covered By The Iranian Nuclear Deal

What Is — And Isn't — Covered By The Iranian Nuclear Deal

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

President Trump has called the Iran nuclear agreement an embarrassment, and he's threatened to declare Iran in violation of it. The president's main complaint is the agreement does not address what the U.S. considers Iran's bad behavior on non-nuclear issues. Here's NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre with a look at what lies outside the Iran deal.

GREG MYRE, BYLINE: The nuclear deal lifted tough sanctions on Iran and eased its isolation. The thinking was this might - emphasis on might - produce a more moderate Iran. It hasn't worked out that way.

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ED ROYCE: I believe that President Obama's flawed nuclear deal was a gamble, a gamble that Iran would choose to become a responsible actor.

MYRE: That's California Republican Ed Royce speaking today at the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which he chairs.

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ROYCE: The Tehran regime clearly sees itself as a movement, one that uses ideology and violence to destabilize its neighbors.

MYRE: You don't need a critic of the Iran nuclear deal to get an earful on Iran's aggressive behavior. Supporters of the nuclear deal offer similar complaints, beginning with Iran's ongoing missile tests. Those missiles could potentially deliver a nuclear warhead, but they're not covered by the nuclear deal.

ABBAS MILANI: The missile tests are very troubling and particularly because the missile tests are done by the radicals in the most provocative manner possible.

MYRE: Abbas Milani heads the Iranian studies department at Stanford University. He's critical of Iran on many other fronts, like in Syria where Iranian fighters have helped ensure the survival of President Bashar Assad.

MILANI: I think Syria is a fairly foregone conclusion. I don't think there is much that the world can do to change the outcome of this now-ravaged country.

MYRE: And in Iraq, he now believes...

MILANI: Iran will have a virtual open hand to increase its influence.

MYRE: Iran also supports a host of radical groups - Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Houthi rebels in Yemen. But all that falls outside the nuclear deal. U.S. allies, international inspectors and the Trump administration itself have all said Iran is in compliance with the nuclear agreement. Alireza Nader of the RAND Corporation advocates a two-track policy in dealing with Iran.

ALIREZA NADER: It makes perfect sense to keep the nuclear agreement and push back against Iran in other ways. Iran is both susceptible to pressure and incentive.

MYRE: He says the U.S. could use the carrot, engaging Iran over a shared opposition to the Islamic State, and the stick, a threat of new, non-nuclear sanctions. Ali Vaez of the international Crisis Group notes that many Iranian policies, like the strong support for Syria, date back decades, long before the nuclear deal.

ALI VAEZ: I don't see any significant change in Iran's behavior before or after the nuclear deal.

MYRE: He says U.S. decertification could easily backfire.

VAEZ: I'm afraid by undermining the nuclear agreement, the administration could in fact usher in what it says that it's trying to prevent, which is greater Iranian assertiveness.

MYRE: Trump says Iran got much more in sanctions relief and business deals than it gave up with its scaled back nuclear program, and he intends to put more pressure on Iran. Yet Republican Congressman Ed Royce cautions against scrapping the agreement.

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ROYCE: As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it.

MYRE: The White House says Trump will announce his Iran policy sometime this week. Greg Myre, NPR News, Washington.

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