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. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable. 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.
Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.
Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism.
It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.
If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.
As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.
Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal. But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people.
Criticisms of Withdrawal
Iran in Compliance
The IAEA has found that Iran has complied with the JCPOA. The Trump administration has not disputed this assessment, and it certified in July 2017 that Iran was meeting the terms of the deal.
It also drew a rare public rebuke by Mr. Obama, who said Mr. Trump’s withdrawal would leave the world less safe, confronting it with “a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.”
If no new deal can be struck, and Iran decides to chase after nuclear weapons, then the Trump administration will be in a very, very tough spot. It will have to either accept the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran or take military action to prevent that from happening.
Why not negotiate a better deal while staying in the agreement?
French President Emmanuel Macron urged Trump to try to open up new negotiations on these issues while staying in the deal, thus keeping Iran’s nuclear program in check for now while dealing with these other issues. But Trump rejected that approach, preferring instead to withdraw from the deal entirely. Trump has said he’s open to negotiating a newer, tougher deal, but there’s little chance that Europe and Iran — which spent years negotiating the current deal, and believe that it’s working — would agree to do so.
By walking away from the deal, the Trump administration may lose its most important instrument for gauging whether Iran is telling the truth, according to former U.S. and U.N. officials and experts familiar with the IAEA’s oversight role. Many experts believe a collapse of the agreement will trigger a suspension of the unique, wide-ranging access granted to the U.N. nuclear watchdog over the past three years.
In effect, by rejecting the deal as inadequate for preventing Iran from getting the bomb, Trump could make it harder for U.S. officials to detect a secret Iranian effort to build nuclear weapons, the former officials and experts said.
“We know more about Iran’s program with the deal than without it,” said former CIA director Michael V. Hayden. “The Iranians lie. They cheat,” Hayden said. “That’s why you need to have the best possible verification regime in place.”
Let’s not ignore the serial foreign policy failures of this administration, August 2020, Jennifer Rubin WaPo
The administration withdrew from the deal, insisting that our allies would follow suit (they did not), that increased pressure on Iran would bring it to the negotiating table (it did not), and that we would continue to reap the benefits of the JCPOA, namely limits on Tehran’s nuclear weapons program (we did not).
At every stage in the “policy,” which was more a political impulse than a thought-out alternative policy, the administration refused to acknowledge that while the JCPOA had flaws (e.g., regarding missile testing), we could have addressed them within the framework of the deal and keep our allies on board. Instead, the ideological and personal insistence on ripping up “Obama’s deal” overrode common sense.
By any measure, we are in a worse position now than we were four years ago regarding Iran, which continues to fund terrorist groups and destabilize the region.
Iran Increases Uranium Enrichment at Key Nuclear Facility, Jan 2021, NYT
Iran announced on Monday that it had increased its uranium enrichment levels, bringing it closer to developing the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon within six months.
The resumption of enrichment to 20 percent was the latest in a series of escalations that have followed President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 nuclear agreement that had limited Iran to enrichment levels of 4 to 5 percent.
In 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from that agreement, convinced that a new set of far more oppressive sanctions would cripple the country enough to humiliate it into accepting new terms more favorable to the United States.
But President Donald Trump’s gambit failed. The new sanctions have crippled the country. But they also prompted the Iranian government to restart nuclear work that it had given up. Other nations, including China, which worked closely with the United States and European powers to forge the nuclear deal with Iran, have grown weary of U.S. unilateralism and could resume doing business with Iran, one way or another.
Trump’s Iran Policy Has Become a Disaster for the U.S. and Israel, Dec 2021, Thomas Friedman NYT
The judges have voted and the results are in: President Donald Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 — a decision urged on by his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — was one of the dumbest, most poorly thought out and counterproductive U.S. national security decisions of the post-Cold War era.
But don’t just take my word for it.
Moshe Ya’alon was the Israeli defense minister when the nuclear agreement was signed, and he strongly opposed it. But at a conference last week, he said, according to a summary by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, “as bad as that deal was, Trump’s decision to withdraw from it — with Netanyahu’s encouragement — was even worse.” Ya’alon called it “the main mistake of the last decade” in Iran policy.
Trump allowed Iran to go nuclear, but Biden will get the blame, July 2022, Max Boot WaPo
As he travels around the Middle East this week, President Biden is struggling with the fallout of what may turn out to be the single worst diplomatic blunder in U.S. history: President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. Even though Iran was complying with the agreement, Trump called it “defective at its core” and warned that “if we do nothing … in just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.”