Trump to bash Iran on non-nuke issues

Matthew Lee

President Donald Trump plans to deliver a broad and harsh critique of Iran in a speech declaring that the landmark Iran nuclear deal is not in America's national security interests, according to US officials and outside advisers.

Trump's speech on Friday from the White House will outline specific faults he finds in the 2015 accord but will also focus on an array of Iran's troubling non-nuclear activities, four officials and advisers say.

Those include Tehran's ballistic missile program, support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and other groups that destabilise the region.

Under US law, Trump faces a Sunday deadline to notify congress whether Iran is complying with the accord that was painstakingly negotiated over 18 months by the Obama administration and determine if it remains a national security priority.

Although Trump intends to say Iran is living up to the letter of the agreement, he will make the case that the deal is fatally flawed and that its non-nuclear behaviour violates the spirit of the regional stability it was intended to encourage, the officials and advisers said.

The officials and advisers said Trump will not call for a re-imposition of nuclear sanctions on Tehran. He will urge lawmakers to codify tough new requirements for Tehran to continue to benefit from the sanctions relief that it won in exchange for curbing its atomic program.

And he'll announce his long-anticipated intent to impose sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps by designating it a terrorist organisation under an existing executive order, according to the officials and advisers.

In addition, Trump will ask congress to amend or replace outright the legislation that currently requires him to certify Iranian compliance every 90 days.

White House aides initially sought a venue for Trump's address that would project American power and determination. The shuttered former Iranian embassy in Washington was briefly considered before being deemed inappropriate. Officials also considered the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial, which was ruled out because it is currently being renovated.

American allies, who have pressed the White House to remain in the nuclear accord, will be closely watching the president's address. Trump wants to impress on the European parties to the accord - Germany, France and Britain - the importance of fixing what he sees as flaws in the nuclear accord and addressing malign behaviour not covered in the agreement.