Raw Deal

On Friday, President Trump declared he would decertify the Iran nuclear deal. Unfortunately, his reasoning is grounded in falsehoods and omissions. The reality is that Trump is willing to further destabilize the world stage in order to throw a slab of red meat to his base while continuing to erase his predecessor’s legacy.

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Credit: Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Trump explained his decision by listing various “violations” Iran has committed against the deal. One such violation is Iran exceeding the limit of holding 130 metric tons of heavy water. Heavy water is used to cool reactors which produce plutonium. There were two violations of this provision in February (130.9 metric tons) and November (130.1 metric tons) of 2016.

Trump’s speech writer omitted one major detail: Iran’s heavy water nuclear reactor was filled with cement in January 2016.

Neither violation prevented Trump from previously certifying the Iran deal in May and July.

Trump also claimed Iran has blocked international inspectors from visiting specific sites. This accusation was quickly denied in a statement by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano: “So far, the IAEA has had access to all locations it needed to visit.”

None of Trump’s “violations” hold water (I’m here all week!).

Moving past his “Iran Deal for Dummies” talking points, Trump presents the main reason for decertifying the deal: “Importantly Iran is not living up to the spirit of the deal…”

What does that mean? Who knows.

Honestly, without pre-scripted notes, Trump wouldn’t be able to state a single provision of the Iran deal.

Until Friday, the Iran deal had been certified by the U.S. President every 90 days since its 2016 implementation. The IAEA has certified the deal 8 times.

Trump’s decertification doesn’t pull the U.S. out of the deal at this point… but it could have catastrophic consequences.

In true “leading from behind fashion,” Trump has placed the future of the Iran deal in the hands of the GOP-controlled Congress.

Trump’s decision passes the buck in the form of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which gives Congress just 60 days to decide on imposing sanctions against Iran.

The INARA prohibits a cloture vote in the Senate, which means the Democrats can’t preserve the Iran deal by filibuster.

In true Trumpian timing, Congress leaves for break November 20th and this clock still runs while they aren’t in session. I can already hear Jack Bauer yelling, “Damn it, Chloe!”

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Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Television

In August, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Iran would drop out of the agreement “within hours” if America were to breach the deal and impose new sanctions against the country.

If the U.S. violates the Iran deal, it will almost certainly have a negative impact on our ongoing efforts to curb North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. If North Korea views the U.S. as a country which can’t uphold its end of a deal, a diplomatic solution could fail.

North Korea will be far from the only country questioning our ability to commit. The Iran deal was also agreed to by China, France, the UK, Russia and Germany.

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Credit: UNIS Vienna

We can’t afford for our allies to question our word, especially when we’re depending on assistance from China in dealing with North Korea.

The State Department found in July, Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Ending the nuclear deal would likely result in Iran becoming the leading state sponsor of terror… with nuclear weapons.

Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis have both voiced support for the Iran deal. Why would Trump do this now? The same reason he does everything: his base.

As President, Trump will be re-validating a deal which he has consistently described to his supporters as “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen” every 90 days.

It was also another opportunity to undermine a landmark achievement of President Obama, which seems to be the sole agenda of the current administration. Just twenty-four hours prior to announcing decertification, Trump halted funding of Obamacare’s subsidies.

Rather than educate his core base on the importance (and success) of the Iran deal, Trump has decided to double-down on every inaccurate statement he made from the campaign trail.

The world’s a dangerous enough place the way it is. President Trump appears hellbent on making it worse.

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