Last year, and then again in January, President Trump disappointed us by consistently waiving opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement. The JCPOA, as it’s known formally, was one of the president’s chief points of criticism when it came to the misdeeds of the Obama administration back in the days of the campaign. On more than one occasion, he promised to shred the deal on “day one” of his presidency. Alas, that didn’t happen. Moreover, while he has remained sharply critical of the agreement, he has waived sanctions against Iran and certified the deal on numerous occasions.
Most likely, he was driven in this direction by his foreign policy team – specifically Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster.
Notably, they are both now history.
In their place is Mike Pompeo at State and, announced this week, John Bolton as Trump’s new national security adviser. Together, they represent a much harder line on the Iran nuclear agreement – one that matches perfectly the president’s mindset on the deal and his promises to the American people. Bolton, particularly, has been relentlessly critical of the deal and has advocated on multiple occasions for President Trump to pull the U.S. out of the agreement. One suspects he will advise him similarly when he arrives in the West Wing next month.
In August of last year, Bolton wrote an op-ed for National Review that outlined a plan for Trump to extract the U.S. from this disastrous agreement. In light of his new appointment, it’s worth revisiting what he wrote at the time.
“The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States,” Bolton wrote.
There is no question in our minds that when Bolton gets to the White House, he will renew his objections to further certification of the Iran nuclear deal. We do not think he will be pacified by Trump’s list of “fixes” he has demanded from our partners in the agreement – even in the unlikely event that our European allies submit to the changes, they are not sufficient to make this deal swing in favor of the U.S. (or Israel, for that matter). They continue to allow Iran to enrich uranium without proper oversight, endangering our national security and posing an unacceptable threat to the stability of the Middle East.
And that doesn’t even get into Iran’s cozy relationship with Russia, their attempts to support pro-Iranian forces in Iraq, or their troublesome forays into Syria.
Bolton, unlike McMaster, will not advise Trump to stay in this asinine agreement and “just see how it goes.” He understands that we cannot afford to do that. This deal is a ticking time bomb…literally. It’s time to defuse.