“American leadership and global security have been dealt terrible blows today by the President’s decision to resume sanctions on Iran, violating the deal that we negotiated. Before this deal, Iran was considered to be just months away from a nuclear weapon. Thanks to the JCPOA, that changed to over one year for a breakout capability. But Trump has now opened to the door for Iran to return to the dangerous status quo ante. I want to be clear: if Iran follows the President’s example and stops abiding by the JCPOA, then he will be the one responsible for Iran’s nuclear program.
“Right now, Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. Even Trump’s own Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said as much before Congress. That means their plutonium enrichment has been completely stopped, while they have given up 97% of their uranium and use of 15,000 centrifuges – all of which effectively puts a nuclear weapon out of reach. We know this because the deal also enables us to put inspectors on the ground and verify Iran’s actions. In fact, when Iran did violate the deal (even slightly) we were able to know and stop them because of the verification regime. But Trump has taken that tool away, leaving us blind.
“The deal was not perfect. At the time it was signed, I expressed my own reservations about aspects like the sunset provisions. But by pulling out of the deal, Trump has made it impossible for us to improve it. Trump believes his ego is leverage enough, but he is deeply mistaken. Negotiating the deal took an unprecedented effort, including concerted sanctions by the U.S., European Union (EU), Russia, and China. All of those partners have made it clear that they will not be following us, so it is unclear why Trump thinks America on its own will have better results than standing together with our allies and major world powers.
“Worse than our isolation and weak negotiating position, Trump is now setting us up for conflict with our European allies. In his announcement, he said America reserves the right to punish those who help Iran. By his definition, that includes our European allies who have lifted sanctions as part of the deal. Along with his brewing trade war over tariffs, this signals America’s isolation from the world, if not outright conflict.
“That damage extends to our credibility as well. Not only do allies now feel encouraged to distance themselves from us, but other countries we work with now have no reason to trust us. Trump has made the case for policy by personality – which tells the rest of the world not to value agreements signed with us for anything more than the paper they’re printed on. Crucially, this could be a serious detriment to our work with North Korea. Trump has yet to explain why North Korea should have faith in our commitment to a nuclear deal after this announcement.
“Contrary to the advice of experts, the pleas from allies, or the opinions of the American people – he is forging ahead with this destructive policy because it was negotiated by the Obama Administration. I can’t think of a bigger decision made for worse reasons.”