With just days before the May 12th deadline to re-certify the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump announced to the world that the United States would withdraw from the deal altogether. If Trump’s goal was to make the U.S. and its allies less safe, potentially destabilize the Middle East and ignite a nuclear arms race; go ahead and find an aircraft carrier to hang that “Mission Accomplished” banner now!
Trump regularly derided the deal on the campaign trail, typically calling it the “worst deal” he had ever seen. Considering Trump’s companies have declared bankruptcy SIX TIMES, I find that hard to believe.
From his own rhetoric, it’s clear Trump doesn’t understand how the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) works. It’s an effective deal which had been recertified every 90 days since its 2015 implementation prior to Tuesday. You can revisit my 2015 piece on the provisions that have prevented Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon here.
Why end it now?
As one of the milestones of Barack Obama’s presidency, it was just a matter of time before Donald Trump would undo it. Recent events created the perfect storm for him to do so.
The administration’s biggest advocates for the Iran deal, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster were both removed from the White House as if they were cosplaying a penultimate episode of “Game of Thrones.” Taking their place were Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, two men who are such Iran hawks, they literally catch their lunch on the South Lawn.
Then on May 1st, Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled Iran’s nuclear data like he was auditioning for a model spot on “The Price is Right,” which seemed to be tailor-made for Trump’s Tuesday exit speech. He got the message:
“Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.”
That’s why there was a deal! We already knew this! You don’t have to take my word for it:
“The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time.”
Prior to the deal, Iran could have had enough material for a weapon in 2-3 months. Under the deal, it’s one year. Great call, “stable genius.”
Trump’s decision is devastating for multiple reasons.
In withdrawing from the deal, he has damaged our nation’s credibility to keep our word with not just future hostile governments like North Korea (with whom we’re potentially close to begin negotiating a nuclear deal with) but also our allies.
“If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.”
THIS IS INSANE. Iran has previously stated if the U.S. were to leave the deal, they would restart their nuclear program. Saudi Arabia has said they would keep pace with Iran and develop their own nuclear bomb. Trump has set the stage for a Middle East nuclear arms race.
Shortly after Trump exited from the deal, Iran announced they would remain in it with the other countries… for now. Which brings me to one of the most damaging aspects of Trump’s presidency: America is no longer the global leader.
In the case of our withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, maybe that’s a good thing.