A top House Republican said Wednesday that the Obama administration “rammed through” a bad deal with its Iran nuclear agreement but urged President Trump to “enforce the hell out of it,” instead of fully withdrawing.
“As flawed as the deal is, I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it,” California GOP Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
Trump, a fellow Republican, is expected this week to decline to certify the 2015 agreement, which would put the issue to Congress.
Royce argued later, during a committee hearing on the issue, that Tehran hasn’t fully fulfilled its part of the multi-nation deal, which tries to stop the rogue nation from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
He also said that roughly $100 billion in the bargain has already been “handed over” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the powerful security force that Trump reportedly wants to designate as a terror group.
However, exiting the deal would allow Iran’s nuclear pursuits to go unchecked as the Revolutionary Guard, along with the terror-related group Hezbollah, plunder Syria or attempt to destroy neighboring U.S. ally Israel and otherwise destabilize the region, he said.
“This threat grows infinitely worse if Iran develops a nuclear weapons capability,” Royce said at the hearing.
He also urged Trump to work with U.S. allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites and said the deal’s “biggest flaw” was that the United States cannot inspect Iran’s military bases.
New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the committee, said leaving the deal would be the equivalent of “playing with fire.”
Trump has threatened since his winning 2016 presidential campaign to scrap the agreement, calling it the "worst deal ever." He must recertify the measure by Oct. 15 because of unilateral conditions set by Congress.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary retired Gen. James Mattis seem to support the United States staying in the agreement.
Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday warned of a “tough response” if Trump tries to scuttle the two-year-old deal, according the state-run IRNA news agency.
Zarif also reportedly said Iran "will never renegotiate."
Also Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Trump's expected speech later this week on the issue will make clear "which is the rebellious government, and which is the side that violates international rules."
In Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May urged the United States on Wednesday to extend the nuclear deal, saying it is "vitally important for regional security."
May's office said she and Trump spoke late Tuesday and both sides agreed their teams would remain in contact ahead of Trump's decision.
China, France, Russia, Germany, Britain and the European Union all ratified the deal.
The Trump administration has faced two 90-day certification deadlines to state whether Iran is meeting the conditions needed to continue enjoying sanctions relief under the deal and has both times backed away from a showdown.
Fox News’ Joseph Weber and The Associated Press contributed to this report.