Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is preparing to take part in nuclear talks next week with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and representatives of other key powers, according to several diplomatic sources, marking the first time the Trump administration’s top diplomat will meet with his Iranian counterpart.
The move comes about a month before President Donald Trump is scheduled to decide whether to certify to Congress that Iran is meeting its obligations under the 2015 nuclear pact, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
For months, the Trump administration has been sharply divided over whether to continue to certify that Iran is in compliance with the accord, or to break free of the Obama-era agreement, a move that would result in Tehran ramping up its nuclear program.
In July, Tillerson and other key national security advisors prevailed on the president to recertify the pact, which by law he has to do every three months. But Trump was reportedly unhappy with the decision and was hoping to scupper the accord in October.
“The truth is, the Iran deal has so many flaws that it’s tempting to leave it,” Nikki Haley told a gathering at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this month. “But the deal was constructed in a way that makes leaving it less attractive. It gave Iran what it wanted up front, in exchange for temporary promise to deliver what we want.”
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