Trump decertifies the Iran deal

After the festivals were over we were greeted with the very good news that President Donald Trump had announced that he was not going to recertify the JCPOA – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as “the Iran deal”. Instead he intended to create a new strategy on Iran. The blog War Sclerotic brings us the full text of Trump’s speech, plus the highlights:

“It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.” – President Donald J. Trump

President Donald J. Trump, in consultation with his national security team, has approved a new strategy for Iran. It is the culmination of nine months of deliberation with Congress and our allies on how to best protect American security.


Core Elements of the President’s New Iran Strategy

• The United States’ new Iran strategy focuses on neutralizing the Government of Iran’s destabilizing influence and constraining its aggression, particularly its support for terrorism and militants.

• We will revitalize our traditional alliances and regional partnerships as bulwarks against Iranian subversion and restore a more stable balance of power in the region.

• We will work to deny the Iranian regime – and especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – funding for its malign activities, and oppose IRGC activities that extort the wealth of the Iranian people.

• We will counter threats to the United States and our allies from ballistic missiles and other asymmetric weapons.

• We will rally the international community to condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights and its unjust detention of American citizens and other foreigners on specious charges.

• Most importantly, we will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.

You can read the entire text at the link, and you can watch the video of Trump’s speech here:

In Israel, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief at Trump’s announcement, though there is still a long way between declarations and enforcement.

Binyamin Netanyahu said that Trump made a historic, bold decision on Iran:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lauded President Donald Trump’s announcement Friday that he would not recertify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told Fox News that Trump had taken a “historic and bold” step towards preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons; part of what he called the broader challenge presented by the Tehran regime.

“Iran is the foremost terrorist state of our time,” said Netanyahu.

“It hangs gays, jails journalists, subjugates women, foments terrorism throughout the world. To have a regime like this, whose economy is 30 times the size of North Korea – to have a rogue regime like that acquire an arsenal of nuclear weapons in 10 years’ time, which is what the Iran agreement now provides for Iran to do, is a terrible folly.”

“So I commend the president for taking an historic and bold decision to avert this danger in time. He could have kicked the can down the road; he could have said ‘it’s not going to happen on my watch, so I’ll just let it go’. But he didn’t, and he faced up to this danger.”

Quoting President Trump, Netanyahu called upon the signatories of the JCPOA to “fix it – or nix it, because it could be very, very, dangerous if it just went through.”

While Prime Minister Netanyahu was a staunch opponent of the JCPOA prior to its passage two years ago, he suggested he would be satisfied with alterations to the deal.

“I’m focused on the goal. The goal is to prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. And you can achieve it either by fixing this bad deal or by nixing it. I don’t particularly care which one.”

The Prime Minister then laid out his criteria for an acceptable nuclear deal with Tehran.

“There are several key things that you want to make sure. One is that you don’t remove restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program just by changing the calendar. You want to see a real change in Iran’s behavior – that’s eliminated the so-called automatic ‘sunset clause’ on restrictions. The second thing is prevent Iran from developing intercontinental ballistic missiles that are only useful for nuclear weapons – and you can do that. And the third thing is… to have real inspections. Right now, Iran doesn’t allow you to inspect military sites. It lets you inspect everywhere else – but where do you think they’re going to hide these things?”

Speaking with CBS on Sunday, Netanyahu noted the wide consensus in the region, in a rare example of Arab-Israel unity, for tougher conditions on Iran aimed at blunting its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

“I mean, it’s not just Israel that is supporting the president. It’s key Arab states like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. And I suggest that, you know, when Israel and the key Arab states agree on something, you know, you should pay attention. We’re close with our ears to the ground. We live right here next to Iran. We see what it’s doing. And I think that what the president has done is created now space to prevent a very bad deal from materializing and to fix it. Everybody should join forces in doing just that.”

Watch Netanyahu’s interview on Fox News after Trump’s announcement:

Former Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman strongly backed Trump’s decision as he outlined the flaws in the Iran deal:

Reactions in the liberal political sphere were less admiring, full of warnings of gloom and doom about Trump’s decision. But Tim Stanley, writing in the Telegraph, asks “How can people not see that on foreign policy Trump is right?” (via HDK via BP):

The fate of the Iran nuclear deal is a good example of how the Trump doctrine differs from Obama’s. At first glance the deal, agreed in 2015, looked marvellous: the world lifted sanctions in exchange for Tehran abandoning a nuclear energy programme that could have been converted to military use.

The UK Foreign Office says that Iran has given up 95 per cent of its uranium stockpile. Despite this, Trump has refused to recertify it and has asked Congress to review it. How can Trump be right and so many brilliant people all over the world be wrong?

The thing is that foreign policy – like economics – is capable of stagnating into orthodoxy. It was received opinion in the Seventies, for instance, that the best way to handle the arms race between America and the Soviet Union was to set agreed limits on nuclear stockpiles while expanding trade in oil and grain. Sound familiar?

American politicians scored a diplomatic coup that won them votes at home, but the communists were playing a longer game. Détente gave the Soviets vital economic boosts while, under the cover of cooperation with the West, they expanded revolutionary struggle into Africa, Asia and the Americas. Disarmament wasn’t the goal. It never is for rogue regimes.

Obama’s foreign policy was based upon a similar premise of buying peace for a limited time. The Iran deal was predicted to give Tehran access to over $100 billion in frozen assets and allow it to sell oil abroad. The mullahs are now in the money, and, I’m sad to have to tell you, they’ve not given it all to CND.

Stanley offers a pop-psychology opinion on how and why Trump manages to get under people’s skin even as he acts in America’s best interests:

Why is it that Trump can see the folly of this deal and others can’t? A recent interview with Forbes magazine, one of the few to take him seriously, noted that Trump was never the kind of entrepreneur who creates a business that satisfies several stakeholders at once. He was a dealmaker, working on the assumption that for one party to do well, the other must get screwed.

That’s why he’s a bad president when it comes to issues such as global warming or free trade: he cannot accept the idea that America making a sacrifice helps the world – and that this can help America, too. But his doctrine of aggressive self-interest does inject a welcome dose of cynicism into relations with dictators who are even more cynical than Donald J Trump.

The UN was reportedly horrified by Trump’s blunt speech. Bravo. One of the best things about the new president is that he pierces the decades-old crust of polite hypocrisy that surrounds global politics.

The UN is full of envoys who praise human rights and peace while, back home, their rulers export terrorism and execute their opponents. The West should avoid war with them, yes, but good for Trump for not pretending they are angels or backing deals that throw fanatics a lifeline.

Indeed Donald Trump is not everyone’s cup of tea, and his undiplomatic, sometimes even undignified behavior grates on the polite diplomatic world. But sometimes we need a rough diamond to shake up the hypocrisy and fake politesse of political circles and the diplomatic world in order to bring back a semblance of sanity to Western civilization.

Now we need to wait and see what the renegotiated deal looks like and how it will be implemented.

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5 Responses to Trump decertifies the Iran deal

  1. Pingback: Trump decertifies the Iran deal – 24/6 Magazine

  2. You hit the nail in the head with the second to last paragraph: “Indeed Donald Trump is not everyone’s cup of tea, and his undiplomatic, sometimes even undignified behavior grates on the polite diplomatic world. But sometimes we need a rough diamond to shake up the hypocrisy and fake politesse of political circles and the diplomatic world in order to bring back a semblance of sanity to Western civilization.” I love it. Couldn’t agree with it more.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks Alexandra. People get so het up about Trump’s behaviour, and it is true that he can be, well, you know, very unpolitically correct, even boorish on occasion. But his instincts so far, at least on foreign policy, seem OK. Time will tell I suppose.

  3. leelonghwa says:

    Thank you for your post. As you noted at the end of your excellent post, sometimes what is needed is a blunt instrument. Obama was untrustworthy on so many levels it is hard to imagine, in particular regarding Israel, whom, I believe he was culturally trained in Indonesia growing up to hate.Trump is not bright enough as President, but his willingness to knock heads, kick butts and take names is what is needed to reestablish American influence, if not for its élan (which Obama tried mightily to make his policy (of course loved in Europe), though in the end his policy was nothing more than devastating Oppeasement), then for its brute force. Iran does not need élan, it needs a powerful punch in the nose…

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