President Trump announced Tuesday that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 12, citing the ineffectiveness of the agreement in stopping development of a nuclear weapon and announcing tough new economic sanctions to put the pressure back on the Iranian government.
In 2015, President Obama, through then-Secretary of State John Kerry, signed on to the JCPOA without consulting Congress. The stated conclusion of the deal was that the U.S. and five key allies would ease sanctions and return frozen Iranian assets in exchange for Iran allowing international inspections at its admitted nuclear sites.
By labeling the plan an executive agreement rather than a treaty, Obama and Kerry were able to bypass Congress. But they also set the stage for a future president reversing the policy unilaterally.
Obama administration veterans, the media, and America’s partners in the agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, are very critical of Trump decision, but he is earning wide praise from most congressional Republicans and conservative policy experts.
“The thing that you’ve got to admire about President Trump is that he makes a decision. He move forward with it. We will deal with it and the rest of the world will deal with this,” said Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla, who chairs the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy in the Reagan administration, is also very happy with the move.
“I think the decision was both right and overdue. I’m thrilled he has taken this step,” said Gaffney. “It finally denies legitimacy to this heinous regime, which could just mean that the people of Iran are able to achieve freedom as well as us achieving a measure of security that would otherwise be denied us.”
Gaffney points out Iran is not only the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism but has proven it cannot be trusted to honor agreements.
“It has cheated on every agreement that it has participated in. It has pursued weapons of mass destruction. It continuously says that it seeks death to America. It has gotten an enormous amount of money (from the nuclear deal), which it has used to further endanger our interests and those of our friends and allies in the region and beyond,” said Gaffney.
Yoho also cited Iran’s bad faith on the world stage.
“Right after it was agreed to by those entities, not us in Congress, Iran fired ballistic missiles and that was against the clause of exercising good faith and Iran broke that the next day,” said Yoho.
But even if Iran had abided by the terms of the JCPOA, Yoho says there are still terrible flaws, including the gaping holes in the inspections.
“They were supposed to be able to check anywhere, anytime, any place per John Kerry. I was in the hearing when he said that. Then it turned out it was 24 hours notice and (no access) to places like military bases. Those places are off limits. Then we can only inspect those places we know. We can’t inspect places that we may hear of,” said Yoho.
Where Yoho and Gaffney strongly disagree is what should happen once the sanctions put Iran in a vulnerable spot again.
“Let those start to work. Let the dust settle. Then we’ll see how earnest and sincere Iran is, wanting to come to the table and put this nuclear business behind everybody,” said Yoho.
Gaffney believes there should never be a table to return to when it comes to Iran.
“There is clearly no point in having a deal with people who can’t be trusted – not only can’t be trusted but can be trusted to violate any obligation they make,” said Gaffney.
He says the only permanent solution to Iranian nuclear ambitions is for the Iranian people to kick the mullahs to the curb.
“I think the only solution to this is for the people of Iran to remove this regime that enslaves and brutalizes them and threatens us. And I think that is clearly the desire of the people of Iran,” said Gaffney.
“We will end the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon by once and for all seeing this regime removed from power,” added Gaffney.