Supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, otherwise known as the JCPOA, are worried. They know President Trump is on the brink of refusing to certify the agreement to Congress next month and withdrawing from it. To stop this from happening, they have come up with a series of desperate and deceptive arguments to convince the president to stick with the deal, despite its deep flaws.
Fortunately, there is a far better and more responsible alternative: a compelling strategy drafted by Ambassador John Bolton to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA and implement a more coherent Iran policy.
Mr. Trump was right when he said during the presidential campaign that the JCPOA is the worst international agreement ever negotiated, since it allows Iran to continue its nuclear-weapons program by permitting it to enrich uranium, operate and develop advanced uranium centrifuges, and run a heavy-water reactor. The limited restrictions that the deal imposes on Iran’s enrichment program will expire in eight years. And in the meantime, its inspection provisions will remain wholly inadequate.
Although the JCPOA did not require Iran to halt its belligerent and destabilizing behavior, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly claimed it would lead to an improvement in that behavior. This has not happened. Instead, Iran has become an even more belligerent and destabilizing force since the deal was announced in 2015. It stepped up its ballistic-missile program. It upped its support of terrorism and sent troops into Syria. And it increased its aggression in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, as the Houthi rebels — its proxy in Yemen — continued to fire missiles at U.S. and gulf-state ships.
As Trump considers withdrawing from the JCPOA, its backers are promoting several dubious arguments in an effort to keep it in place. These include:
1. Argument: The IAEA says Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA. Although it is true that a September 1, 2017, IAEA report did not cite any Iranian violations of the deal, and IAEA director general Yukiya Amano has said Iran is meeting its JCPOA commitments, according to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, “the [IAEA] report is so sparse in details that one cannot conclude that Iran is fully complying with the JCPOA.” The Institute also notes that, “nowhere in the report does the IAEA state that Iran is fully compliant.”
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