With President Donald Trump reportedly set to declare that the Iran nuclear deal is “not in the national interest of the United States” as early as Friday, a chorus of lawmakers, policy experts, and advocacy groups are sounding the alarm, warning that any move to undermine the accord would “open up a nuclear Pandora’s box in the Middle East” and place the U.S. on a “path to war with Iran.”
“A failed certification would be the first step to unraveling the Iran nuclear deal and taking us to a new, devastating war of choice in the Middle East,” Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement Wednesday. “Congress would be empowered to kill the accord through the front door by snapping back sanctions, or to kill it through the back door by moving the goalposts on sanctions relief.”
Parsi goes on to note that a quick glimpse at those rallying behind Trump’s efforts to kill the deal—from former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and the hawkish Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)—should be enough to conclude that the president’s expected move is a bad idea.
“The only voices in support” of Trump’s decision, Parsi observes, “are old Iraq war champions and a new age of uber-hawks eager to fracture the accord and bomb Iran.”
Echoing Parsi’s warnings in a letter (pdf) to the White House on Wednesday was the Nuclear Crisis Group (NCG), a team of former ambassadors and national security experts dedicated to highlighting and helping to deescalate nuclear threats across the globe.
NCG notes that the Iran deal—formally known as the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—was a “groundbreaking diplomatic agreement [which] provided the means for Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear activities were permanently and verifiably peaceful.”
By moving unilaterally to scrap the agreement against the advice of many members of his own cabinet, the other nations that signed the deal, and most of the world, Trump is “undermin[ing] the credibility of the United States in all manner of negotiations, making it unlikely—to take just one dangerous example—the standoff with North Korea will be resolved by peaceful means.”
“No evidence has been produced by either the International Atomic Energy Agency or U. S. intelligence agencies showing Iran in active or significant violation of the JCPOA,” NCG’s letter concludes. “Decertifying Iranian compliance without cause risks the unraveling of the JCPOA and could leave Iran able to advance its nuclear capabilities without restriction or strict verification.”
If, as expected, Trump “decertifies” the nuclear agreement this week, Congress will then have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
As Common Dreams reported Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that new sanctions or any other violation of the nuclear accord would effectively kill the deal and earn the U.S. condemnation from “the entire world.”
In anticipation of Trump’s announcement this week, advocacy groups are beginning to mobilize in support of the agreement, and in opposition to Trump’s reckless moves to undermine and dismantle it.
MoveOn.org is holding a “Stop a War With Iran” rally in front of the White House Thursday to declare that “diplomacy is working” and to “denounce Trump’s decision to bring us closer to war.”
Members of Congress have also increasingly been sounding off this week.
“The Trump administration is putting us on the path to war. Trump’s foreign policy is a disaster and must be stopped,” concluded Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Twitter Wednesday. “Trump’s announced intention to decertify the Iran nuclear agreement would achieve nothing other than isolating the U.S..”