May 04, 2018

Trump Is Right To Blast The Disastrous Iran Deal

Advocates of the Iranian nuclear deal are in a state of panic after a shocking revelation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The deal appears to be on life support after Israeli government officials announced they obtained 100,000 Iranian documents that show damning evidence of the regime’s desire to use its nuclear program to produce weapons of mass destruction. This is sadly another example of Tehran’s willingness to undermine the United States and its Middle East allies.

Add this development to the many reasons that President Trump has been right to blast the misguided agreement. The administration recognizes that the current framework of the arrangement fails to address Iran’s ICBM program, gives too much leeway for the Islamist regime to lie and hide nefarious activity, and doesn’t permanently stop the rogue state from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. Americans must stand with President Trump and our Middle East allies as they seek to vastly improve the deal or scrap it all together.

The tense situation that Trump finds himself in can largely be attributed to the previous administration. Obama and his advisors penned the deal in lieu of strong opposition from key American allies, foreign policy experts, and politicians from both sides of the aisle. Under the guidance of Ben Rhodes and John Kerry, the Obama administration showed it cared little about the legitimate concerns of our allies but was instead focused on trying to obscure its abysmal foreign policy record with an “achievement.”

In addition to the loosely defined terms in the agreement, the deal failed to address other key elements of the regime. Restrictions on Tehran’s sponsorship of state terrorism weren’t included, and its spread of chaos has plagued the region ever since. Worse, the deal set expiration dates on certain clauses that eventually allow for the Islamist state to develop nuclear weapons freely.

Nevertheless, Obama signed the deal in 2015. The consequences were immediate.

Hundreds of billions of dollars in unfrozen assets flowed to Iran, a radical Islamist regime that was pleased to have a terror slush fund at its disposal. Ayatollah Khamenei has long sought to make Iran the regional giant in the Middle East, and the agreement provided the funds necessary to attempt to make this vision a reality.

Khamenei set his sights on Syria, where strongman Bashar Assad’s rule was on the brink of collapse in a conflict that has killed more than 500,000. Aid began to flow at the tune of $6 billion a year according to the U.N. Special Envoy to Iran, Staffan de Mistura. Munitions, oil, and foot soldiers followed suit as well.

Iran also called upon its proxy group, Hezbollah, who sent a flood of radical Islamist fighters pouring over Lebanon’s border into Syria in defense of the murderous Assad regime. This is the same Islamist group that violently destabilized the Lebanese state and is responsible for the kidnapping and deaths of numerous Americans. Hezbollah and Iran have now begun the process of building a permanent presence in Syria in preparation for a confrontation with Israel. Tehran is also backing militants in Bahrain while simultaneously fueling unrest in Yemen in what has been described as “one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”

Fortunately, Trump has sought to restore a more responsible approach to dealing with the Iranian regime since taking office. The president has been one of the harshest critics of the deal and has continually highlighted its failures. “Insane” and “ridiculous” are just a few of the choice words he has recently used to describe the arrangement.

Words have been followed by action. In October 2017, the president decertified the agreement, and the Treasury Department accordingly slapped sanctions on Iranian entities that support terrorism.

Trump stood firm in January 2018 by promising that he would no longer lift sanctions unless the deal was renegotiated. Better yet, the president appointed John Bolton as his National Security Advisor and chose Mike Pompeo as his secretary of State. Both men understand that any continued deal with Tehran must remove the deal’s sunset clauses and address Iran’s ICBM program and support for vicious terrorism.

Most significantly, Trump has been working overtime to coordinate next steps on the deal with our Israeli and Arab allies. Obama didn’t seek input from those who would be impacted most directly despite desperate pleas from our allies in the region. Nor did he express concern for their security when pursuing a self-aggrandizing program of diplomatic malfeasance.

Netanyahu’s release of these appalling documents may be the final straw for Trump. While critics of the release claim that the papers reveal nothing new, they seem to have put their fingers in their ears and their hands over their eyes in recognizing Iran’s end game. Tehran is patiently waiting until the sunset clauses “set” and it can quickly produce a nuclear weapon.

While Obama and his team may have gotten us into this mess, Trump has the tools available to get us out. In a strong display of leadership, the president has effectively put a stop to the Obama-era mantra of Iranian appeasement. America and its allies will once again be put first. Expect Trump to take decisive action by fixing or nixing Obama’s “signature” foreign policy achievement.

-- Alex Titus, Policy Advisor for America First Policies

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