President Trump has opted out of the Iran Nuke Deal, formally called The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (“JCPOA”) and one would think Armageddon was upon us. The Dems and the usual suspects in the media would have you believe that Trump’s “irresponsible,” “reckless” action will make the world less safe and will more likely lead to nuclear war. The Nation labeled it the “most reckless policy move yet” and a “prelude to war.” Oh my! Let’s all take a deep breath and analyze the situation rationally.
- The first point to comprehend is that Mr. Trump was within his rights, legally, to take the action he did. The deal was never ratified by the Senate. President Obama, perhaps, realizing that the Senate would have been unlikely to ratify such a flawed agreement, committed the US to it by executive action. Therefore, Mr. Trump was within his rights to undue it the same way.
- There are many flaws in the deal but, to me, the two most egregious are (1) the absence of inspection and verification by an independent body and (2) the “sunset provision.” The absence of independent inspection and verification would have made it easy for Iran to cheat. Raise your hand if you trust Iran to comply. The sunset provision made Iran’s neighbors very uneasy, not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey as well. Mr. Trump stated that he feared it would trigger a nuclear arms race as other countries in the region would seek to protect themselves by developing their own nuclear stockpiles.
- The $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran defies all logic. Obviously, it has been and will continue be used to fund terrorist and destabilizing activities in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Mr. Trump’s action should have come as no surprise. During his campaign he railed on and on about the deal, characterizing it as “the worst deal ever.” In addition, he called Iran the “leading state sponsor of terror.” Furthermore, Iran has repeatedly and unabashedly stated its intention to “wipe Israel (the US’s staunchest and most reliable ally in the region) off the face of the earth.”
The deal may not have been quite the “worst,” but it was very bad. It was dangerous, because it presented the illusion of protecting the US and its allies, yet it failed to do so. The false sense of security and positive “spin” by Messrs. Obama, Kerry, Clinton and others reminded me of Neville Chamberlain and the Munich Pact in 1938. “Peace in our time,” he had proclaimed, jubilantly. We all know how that turned out.
Mr. Trump called for the reinstitution of sanctions, which had been terminated in 2015 as part of the deal, to be phased in over the next six months. Moreover, he warned that any country that provides assistance to Iran’s nuclear program could also face sanctions.
By now, we should all be familiar with President Trump’s methodology, and he is following it here.
- He will endeavor to undue or, at least, modify deals and agreements that he perceives as disadvantageous to the US. The much quoted and often maligned slogan “America first” is not an empty promise to him. Some examples include NATO, TPP, NAFTA, the climate change deal, and North Korea.
- The NOKO situation is particularly instructive. First, he took a tough position toward Kim, which Mr. Trump’s critics called “inflammatory,” “ill-advised,” “reckless” and worse. But, in the end he has brought NOKO to the bargaining table, and got them to free three hostages, UNHARMED AND AT NO COST. It’s called negotiating, and it is what Mr. Trump has done very successfully all his adult life. As I keep saying, focus on what Mr. Trump does, not on what he says.
- You will note that the sanctions are being phased in over the next six months. Lots of things can happen in the next six months. Iran will bluster. Mr. Trump’s critics will bloviate. Britain, France and Germany will complain publicly, but privately they will likely open back channels to Iran. After all, everyone has much to lose economically. Don’t be surprised if the deal is modified to something the US can live with.