President Donald Trump took steps to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal — yet another act by Trump in his obsession to destroy or remove any semblance of former President Barack Obama’s legacy, political pundits said.
Kelly Magsamen, vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, called the decision dangerous.
“President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal is dangerous and could not come at a worse time,” Magsamen said in a news release. “At the same time his administration attempts to resolve one nuclear crisis in East Asia, President Trump has set into motion a second nuclear crisis in the Middle East by putting Iran back on the path to a nuclear weapon. Trump is also isolating the United States from its allies and making clear that the U.S. does not live up to its own agreements.”
Officials at the Center for American Progress argued that it’s important to remember the Iran nuclear deal is working and remains in the U.S. national security interest.
“There is only one reason that President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal no matter how he tries to spin it. The sole reason is that President Obama was instrumental in the Iran nuclear deal,” resident Michelle Lieberman wrote. “Trump wants to pretend that Obama was never president of the United States. The Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear agreement, Obamacare — anything that he had a hand in bringing into reality, Trump wants erased from our consciences.”
Obama criticized Trump’s decision to exit the Iran deal, which CNN called a pillar of Obama’s legacy on foreign policy.
“Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes — with Iran — the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans,” Obama said in a statement. “That is why [Trump’s] announcement is so misguided.”
Trump also announced that he would impose new sanctions on Iran.
In his statement defending the multiparty agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Obama cited many who support the deal, including the United States’ European allies, and he invoked the support of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has said it is in the interest of the U.S. to stay in the agreement.
“In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next,” Obama’s statement continued. “But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.”
The former president was joined in his disapproval of Trump’s decision by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
Biden said in a statement following Trump’s announcement that the decision is “a profound mistake” and that it would put Iran on the path to developing nuclear weapons without diplomatic recourse.
“This wholly unnecessary crisis could ultimately put the safety of our country and our fellow citizens, including thousands of men and women in uniform serving across the Middle East, at risk by setting us back on a path to war with Iran,” Biden said.
Kerry condemned the move by Trump to abandon the agreement he had helped forge.
“Trump’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future Administrations to make international agreements,” Kerry said.
In 2015, Iran agreed to a long-term deal on its nuclear program with the P5+1 group of world powers — the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany. It came after years of tension over Iran’s alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran insisted that its nuclear program was entirely peaceful, but the international community did not believe that.
Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
“The deal has verifiably prevented Iran from building a bomb and placed severe restrictions on Iranian nuclear activities in perpetuity,” Magsamen said. “This agreement does not require the United States to trust the Iranian government. On the contrary, as Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently noted, the agreement ‘is written almost with an assumption that Iran would try to cheat.’”
Sen. Bob Casey said he was also disappointed by Trump’s decision.
“By taking a step that violates the JCPOA, President Trump has taken a drastic step that will increase the possibility of Iran resuming its pursuit of a nuclear weapon and make it much more difficult to reach a diplomatic agreement to constrain North Korea’s nuclear program,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said.