President Trump has reluctantly followed the advice of his national security advisers and certified that Iran is complying with the 2015 agreement to limit its nuclear weapons program for a second time. The July 17 recertification was a mistake, and the president would be wise to exit the deeply flawed agreement as soon as possible.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly and accurately criticized the agreement reached by the Obama administration and the despotic government of Iran, calling it “the worst deal ever.”
The Iranians are state sponsors of international Islamist terrorism who shout “Death to America” and vow to wipe Israel off the map. They made fools of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry by negotiating a nuclear deal that gave Iran nearly everything it wanted at little cost.
Seeing how desperate Obama was to make a deal – any deal – Iranian negotiators skillfully took advantage of his many weaknesses and naive hopes to outwit him at every turn. And in the past two years they have flagrantly violated the spirit and letter of the deal.
It was a sad spectacle to see America’s national security leaders urging the president to recertify the nuclear deal. Claims that Iran is “technically” in compliance with the agreement only stand up if you ignore all of the things the Iranians have done to avoid being caught in many violations. The most blatant of these is simply not allowing inspectors access to the facilities where the Iranians are busy violating the agreement.
There is no question that Iran is cheating on the nuclear agreement. The only question is what America should do about it. The deal brought Iran back from isolation exactly as President Obama and his team planned, making it hard to reverse. Obama lied extensively about virtually every aspect of the deal, ignoring the dangers it posed to our nation.
The nuclear agreement gave many of America’s friends and allies the ability to jump into a large business market in Iran that was closed to them before. They filled every seat on flights into Iran once the deal was announced and now have large investments in the Islamic Republic that will be in jeopardy if the U.S. scraps the agreement and puts tough sanctions on Iran again. Many of these countries vehemently oppose any changes to the nuclear deal for that very reason, prioritizing profits over security.
But economic concerns should not stop President Trump from doing the right thing and neither should other arguments, such as the claim that pulling out of the nuclear deal will make diplomacy more difficult and complicate relations with friends and adversaries. President Trump has to take those things into account, but he also must put the security of the United States first.
Iran is already a major threat to America, the surrounding region and the world. Nuclear weapons would give Iran’s mullahs the terrifying power to kill millions of innocent people and potentially set off a nuclear world war.
Without question, the nuclear deal must go and Iran must be made to pay for its violations and its many other bad acts. These include continuing to hold U.S. citizens hostage and handing down prison sentences for others in show trials.
Sanctions like those just announced by our State Department are a step forward, but more and tougher sanctions are needed. The nuclear deal must be replaced with a set of incentives that force Iran’s tyrannical rulers to choose between their nuclear ambitions and their country’s economic and diplomatic survival.
How to do this? One way would be for President Trump to declare that the nuclear deal is – and always was – a treaty. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states clearly that treaties require approval by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Obama’s claim that a far-reaching agreement with a foreign power was not really a treaty and never needed Senate approval is absurd.
Once he accurately labeled the Iran deal as a treaty, President Trump would need to submit it to the Senate and ask for a vote. He should also release details of the shameful lies and deceptions that Obama and his administration used to sell the deal to America and the world, so a vote can be based on facts. Under these circumstances, the Iran deal would die a well-deserved death.
Whatever mechanism he uses, President Trump must not let the Iran agreement continue in place when Iranian compliance next comes up for certification in October, though pulling out sooner would be preferable. America’s national security and the security of the world demand it. Dump the deal, Mr. President.
Jim Hanson is president of Security Studies Group and served in U.S. Army Special Forces.
Jim Hanson is President of Security Studies Group and served in US Army Special Forces.