The Iran deal is working – but Trump may rip it up

Dylan Williams Image
Dylan Williams
on August 22, 2017

The Iran nuclear agreement should be a “done deal.”

It’s been agreed upon and implemented. It’s working just as it’s supposed to. All of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon have been blocked. All of its nuclear facilities are being monitored. The US, Israel and the world are safer. Nothing to see here except successful diplomacy at work.

And yet there’s a distinct chance that in the next month or two, President Trump might unilaterally abandon the agreement and throw away all that it has accomplished.

By September 15, the president must reissue vital sanctions waivers needed to uphold the US end of the agreement. If he refuses to issue them, the US will no longer be compliant. And on October 15, the White House must recertify to Congress that Iran is complying with the JCPOA — or trigger a process that could also kill the deal.

So far, while the president has repeatedly denounced the agreement, the White House has taken the steps necessary to maintain it. The secretary of state, the secretary of defense, joint chiefs of staff and national security adviser have all cautioned against walking away from it. They’ve made clear that the deal is working. If the US recklessly abandons it, our allies will blame us. The coalition that pushed Iran to the negotiation could collapse — and Iran could be back on the path to pursuing nuclear weapons.

But contrary to the experts’ advice, Trump has seemed determined to find a way to claim Iran is not in compliance. In a heated meeting in July, the president reportedly raged against the recommendations of his senior national security team. In its aftermath, he tasked a special group of ultra-hawkish White House officials with finding justification for the US to walk away from the agreement at the next deadline.

This is alarming — but far from surprising. We know that the president often acts recklessly in order to score political points with his far-right base — and to settle grudges against his predecessor. Last month, he told the Wall Street Journal that when the next certification deadline comes around, “I think [Iran]’ll be noncompliant” — and that he expects to be presented with intelligence to prove it.

That is extremely dangerous. As a former deputy director of the CIA wrote in response, “When a president directs his staff to generate intelligence to support a preferred policy outcome, overriding the dispassionate analytic judgments of intelligence professionals, that is the very definition of politicization of intelligence.”

We’ve seen what the consequences can be when leaders make vital foreign policy decisions based on politicized intelligence. We’ve seen how abandoning diplomacy and taking rash action on the international stage can alienate allies, sow chaos and undermine the security of our country and entire regions.

We can’t let that happen — not this time. Over the next two months, we need to do everything we can to make clear to Congress and to everyone around the president that the Iran nuclear agreement is making our country and our allies, including Israel, safer — and that abandoning it would be a disastrous mistake that could put us on the path to crisis and even war.

To be successful, we’re going to need everyone who helped us defend this deal the first time to stand with us again. Can we count on you?

Yes, I’ll make a one-time donation of what you can to help J Street fight Trump’s effort to sabotage the Iran deal.

Yes, I’ll become a monthly donor to make sure J Street can defend our diplomatic achievements over the long run.

During this administration’s tenure, we’ve seen countless examples of the Trump White House following its worst instincts. But we’ve also seen millions of Americans and effective advocacy movements fight back and stand up for the values we believe in and for smart, effective policies. Just last week, we saw one of the most dangerous and reviled figures in the White House, Steve Bannon, removed after months of vocal pressure from activists involved with J Street and hundreds of other groups.

Bannon was among the Iran deal opponents tasked with undermining the agreement. His removal is a good sign. But many of his allies still remain in important positions — and we’ll have to do all that we can to stop them from doing further damage.

Later this week, we’ll let you know how you can take action to defend the JCPOA and stand up for tough and effective diplomacy that makes us safer.

While the president pursues “alternative facts,” we need to push back with the truth. We need to raise an outcry and make absolutely clear what the stakes are — and why it is so vital to uphold this agreement.

The Iran Deal

Learn more about the Iran nuclear agreement.

From the J Street Blog