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National Security Desk / May 9, 2018

Promise Kept — Trump Nukes Iran Deal

Yet another pillar of Barack Obama's horrible legacy crumbles at Trump's hands.

Keeping his promise, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that the United States will withdraw from the “horrible” Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) and reinstate sanctions that were suspended as part of the deal. “We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. We will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most deadly weapons on earth,” Trump declared. “Today’s action sends a critical message: The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises I keep them.”

Despite attempts by the Europeans to dissuade Trump, despite John Kerry’s smoke-filled-backroom efforts to save the deal, and despite Iran warning that it would be “a historic mistake” to withdraw, the president reiterated what he has said all along: “We cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.” Trump reportedly remains open to improving the deal, and he will now have economic leverage to persuade Iran and the Europeans to do just that.

Barack Obama, who paid the Iranians $1.7 billion in ransom cash loaded on pallets as well as hundreds of billions more in sanctions relief, predictably criticized the decision to withdraw — which is tantamount to an endorsement in our book. “Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies,” Obama admonished, adding that it’s “a serious mistake.” But the biggest mistake was made by Obama and his feckless secretary of state, Kerry, caving in to one Iranian demand after another and agreeing to the deal. As we said at the time, “You want it bad, you’ll get it bad.”

Obama was so desperate for a foreign policy “victory” that getting a deal was more important than the content of the deal. Having agreed to a deal that he knew would never pass the Senate as a treaty, the minute the ink was dry Obama instead ran to the United Nations, which passed a Security Council Resolution establishing the deal’s terms. But only laws passed by the U.S. Congress, or treaties approved by the Senate, are binding on the actions of the United States. And as “constitutional scholar” Obama and long-time Senator Kerry undoubtedly knew, any deal that really was in the United States’ best interest would have been able to pass muster in the Senate and gain the two-thirds votes needed to ratify a treaty.

When even some key Democrats opposed the deal, that was unlikely.

Obama and his various minions told us time after time that the deal would moderate Iran’s behavior and help bring it back into the community of nations, but a quick survey of recent events shows the spectacular deception of that claim.

Iran is fighting a proxy war in Syria to keep Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime in power, and it probably has more troops on the ground than any group other than the Syrian Army. It continues flying military equipment into Syria via Iraq, attracting the occasional Israeli airstrike (including one just last night) and risking major escalation of the fighting there. Its proxies in Yemen have fired Iranian-made weapons at U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea, as well as used one of Iran’s signature weapons, the explosive boat, to hit and severely damage a Saudi warship. Its ballistic missile activity has continued unabated, despite UN Security Council Resolution 2231’s prohibitions on such activity. In addition to missile testing, Iran has actually fired ballistic missiles at targets in Syria, and its Yemeni proxies have fired Iranian-made missiles into Saudi Arabia.

Needless to say, we don’t see much moderating in Iran’s behavior. Worse, Obama helped fund Iran’s increased terror sponsorship.

In the coming days and weeks we expect the various actors that supported the deal — Democrats, the Leftmedia, the Europeans, the Iranians — will all make the most of the opportunity to paint President Trump as a bumptious and warmongering rube. The Europeans will follow Obama’s cue and decry the undiplomatic behavior of withdrawing from a gentlemen’s agreement. The Iranians will shout about the untrustworthy nature of the United States. We even expect Rep. Maxine Waters will ascribe racism to President Trump’s decision, claiming it is an act of spite against his African-American predecessor.

But all the wailing and teeth-gnashing among various Europeans, Iranians, Democrats (and even some short-sighted Republicans) will merely serve to demonstrate the double injury Obama inflicted when he accepted the deal. The first injury was the deal itself. The second, as we said at the time, was that some future president would have to withdraw and harm our standing with friends and foes alike.

That day has now come, and our standing with our European allies may indeed suffer temporarily. Iran may try to create even more mischief around the Middle East. Oil markets and the U.S. and world economies may feel some pain as Iran’s oil market is squeezed.

But the undeniable fact is that the existing nuclear agreement merely kicked the can down the road for a decade, ensuring that Iran would emerge with a full, UN-approved nuclear fuel cycle that would enable very rapid nuclear breakout in the future. Dealing with this problem now, even if painful, is vastly better than dealing with it later, when it may not only be painful but also deadly. Withdrawing from the nuclear deal is a first step in the right direction.

On a final note, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un should take note that Trump isn’t messing around. Perhaps he already has, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo returns home today from Pyongyang with three released American hostages.

(Updated.)

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