Kill the Iran deal

Trump should fol­low his in­stincts and do what he wants to do: Pull out

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Perspectives - Kelly Jane Torrance Kelly Jane Torrance is the deputy manag­ing edi­tor of The Weekly Stan­dard (Twit­ter: KJTor­rance).

In his week­end war of words with Sen. Bob Corker on Twit­ter, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump blamed the Ten­nessee Repub­li­can for the “hor­ren­dous” Iran nu­clear deal — twice. It was an odd charge, and not just be­cause it was Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion that ne­go­ti­ated the agree­ment. Mr. Corker, with Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., spon­sored the law re­quir­ing the pres­i­dent to de­ter­mine ev­ery 90 days if Iran is abid­ing by the ac­cord. Mr. Trump has cer­ti­fied Iran’s com­pli­ance twice, re­luc­tantly: “If it was up to me,” he told The Wall Street Jour­nal after do­ing so in July, “I would have had them non­com­pli­ant 180 days ago.”

But it is up to him. The Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Ac­tion, as the deal is for­mally known, did not pass the Se­nate with the twothirds ma­jor­ity the Con­sti­tu­tion re­quires of treaties. Mr. Trump could have ditched the deal as soon as he took of­fice. It was his duty, in fact, if he be­lieved, as he de­clared as a can­di­date, “The Iran deal poses a di­rect na­tion­alse­cu­rity threat.” In­stead, he not only bowed to pres­sure from his Cabi­net and cer­ti­fied com­pli­ance, he also waived statu­tory sanc­tions against Iran, as the deal de­mands.

As the next dead­line of Oct. 15 ap­proaches, it ap­pears the pres­i­dent might fi­nally trump his ad­vis­ers — to a point. Mr. Trump is ex­pected to give a speech to­day an­nounc­ing de­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. That won’t be enough to de­stroy the deal, how­ever. Congress would have 60 days to de­cide whether to reim­pose sanc­tions, and Mr. Trump could con­tinue waiv­ing them him­self, in the name of ne­go­ti­a­tion. Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials are pulling out all stops to per­suade the pres­i­dentto do so.

De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis and Joint Chiefs chair­man Joseph Dun­ford ar­gued at a Se­nate hear­ing last week that Amer­ica should pre­serve the JCPOA. They tes­ti­fied that 1) Iran is in com­pli­ance with the deal and 2) the deal is in our na­tional-se­cu­rity in­ter­est. It’s strik­ing that Mr. Trump didn’t dis­pute their state­ments, since they con­flict starkly with his own. He’s cer­tainly been will­ing to take to Twit­ter to at­tack his own Cabi­net mem­bers be­fore.And both as­ser­tions are false.

We have no idea whether Iran is in com­pli­ance with the agree­ment be­cause In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency in­spec­tors haven’t checked. “No­body is al­lowed to visit Iran’s mil­i­tary sites,” one Ira­nian of­fi­cial de­clared. And the JCPOA doesn’t give the IAEA the abil­ity to make in­spec­tions on de­mand. In­spec­torsmust have rea­son to be­lieve checks are nec­es­sary — what ev­i­dence is re­quire­disn’t men­tioned — be­fore they can re­quest ac­cess. They­haven’t.

Iran is no North Korea, brag­ging about its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties and taunt­ing the United States to test them. It knows it will be more likely to suc­ceed in ob­tain­ing a nu­clear weapon if it’s quiet about it. We only learned how close the regime was get­ting to break­out ca­pac­ity thanks to in­tel­li­gence pro­vided to us, at great risk, from Ira­nian dis­si­dents.

The Corker-Cardin re­view law re­quires the pres­i­dent to cer­tify that the Iran deal is “vi­tal to U.S. na­tion­alse­cu­rity in­ter­ests,” and Mr. Trump’s gen­er­als claim this is the case. It’s not.

Never mind that the deal only slows — not stops — Iran from go­ing nu­clear. It pro­vides the mur­der­ous, anti-Amer­ica regime with a far big­ger ben­e­fit far more quickly. Iran has al­ready re­ceived $1.7 bil­lion from the United States to set­tle a decades-old ar­bi­tra­tion claim — re­mem­ber the pal­lets of cash? — and had bil­lions of dol­lars in as­sets un­frozen.

“None of that money reached the Ira­nian peo­ple,” Farzad Madadzadeh, a 32year-old dis­si­dent who fled Iran less than two years ago, told me this sum­mer. He and his sis­ter Shab­nam, 29, who were im­pris­oned and tor­tured for their hu­man rights ac­tivism, told me where that money went: to ter­ror­ists, in­clud­ing Syr­ian dic­ta­tor Bashar As­sad and Hezbol­lah.

Iran is us­ing Amer­i­can largesse to fund Amer­ica’s en­e­mies. The Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice re­ported in Au­gust that “mul­ti­ple U.S. com­man­ders have warned of in­creased lev­els of as­sis­tance” from Iran to the Tal­iban — the ter­ror­ists Amer­ica is fight­ing in Afghanistan.

The mul­lahs will soon see more pay­offs. Boe­ing has al­ready signed agree­ments worth $19 bil­lion to sup­ply Iran with air­craft; Euro­pean coun­tries are even more ea­ger to do busi­ness with the dic­ta­tor­ship. Such deals are made pos­si­ble by the sanc­tions re­lief pro­vided by the JCPOA. They’ll give the regime the abil­ity to do even more harm to U.S. and al­lied forces.

As a can­di­date, Mr. Trump reg­u­larly railed against the “cat­a­strophic” deal with the world’s lead­ing state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism. Now he’s pres­i­dent. If he lets the agree­ment stand, he’ll have only one per­son to blame: him­self.

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