Kill the Iran deal
Trump should follow his instincts and do what he wants to do: Pull out
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.