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President Trump: Ignore the Iran Deal 'fixers' and just kill it

President Trump: Ignore the Iran Deal 'fixers' and just kill it
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A furious effort is underway this week by supposed Iran deal opponents in the Trump administration and Congress to convince President TrumpDonald John TrumpIG investigating Comey memos over classified information: report Overnight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Top Pruitt aid requested backdate to resignation letter: report MORE to continue the fraudulent nuclear deal with Iran (the JCPOA) by extending sanctions lifted by the agreement by a Jan. 12 deadline and “certifying” the deal to Congress by Jan. 15. These people are arguing that refusing to issue the waiver would essentially kill the JCPOA, a result they claim would bolster Iran’s ruling mullahs and alienate European leaders.

These arguments are obscene in light of the brutal crackdown against Iranian demonstrators and how JCPOA sanctions relief has harmed the Iranian people.

First, this group of self-described JCPOA opponents are nothing of the sort. They have always opposed President Trump’s Iran policy. They speak passionately about how bad the Iran deal is but oppose the president tearing it up. They fought to prevent Trump from decertifying the Iran deal last summer because they were more worried about irritating Europe and the foreign-policy establishment.

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These senior officials and congressmen do not actually oppose the JCPOA; they oppose it in its current form and claim to want to “fix” it. However, their proposed fixes are very minor and do not address the agreement’s principal flaws: allowing Iran to enrich uranium, giving Iran a plutonium-producing heavy-water reactor, and extremely weak verification.

 

But even their minor fixes have no chance of being implemented due to Iranian and European opposition. Their effort to have the U.S. Congress pass legislation to make minor fixes to the JCPOA also makes no sense because Congress cannot renegotiate international agreements. It therefore is more accurate to call these people “FAKE Iran deal opponents.”

Of course, European leaders also are urging President Trump not to withdraw from the JCPOA. But how can we take their demands seriously when these leaders refuse to speak out on behalf of the Iranian protesters? It also is very likely that much of their support for the JCPOA is for economic reasons, including a large Airbus sale approved just after the agreement came into force.

It’s important to stress that some of the popular anger in Iran that has driven the recent protests stems from the JCPOA. The Iranian people expected their lives would improve from JCPOA sanctions relief. But that didn’t happen. Instead of using sanctions relief to improve the economy, Iran’s leaders increased the military budget by 145 percent and boosted its nuclear and missile programs. They sent troops into Syria and gave Syrian President Assad’s government a $1 billion line of credit.

The Iranian government has used sanctions relief to massively increase its support of terrorism by giving $830 million to Hezbollah, $70 million to Islamic Jihad and an estimated $50 million per month to Hamas; the Houthi rebels in Yemen received missiles from Iran that they have used to attack ships in the Red Sea and other targets in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, ordinary Iranians are facing food shortages, high inflation and high unemployment. Some are selling their kidneys to raise cash.

In light of these facts, it is vital that President Trump ignore bad advice from the fake JCPOA opponents in his administration who are recommending that he extend the Iran deal and try to fix it — a preposterous course of action that flies in the face of the president’s principled support of the Iranian protesters.  

I hope President Trump will instead listen to the advice of one of his strongest supporters, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who has urged him to withdraw from the JCPOA, reimpose the sanctions it lifted, and impose additional sanctions against Iran for its sponsorship of terrorism, its missile program, its meddling in regional disputes, and for cracking down on peaceful demonstrators.

Last August, Ambassador Bolton drafted an excellent plan on how the president could withdraw from the JCPOA with America’s allies. Last September, 45 national security experts wrote to the president urging that he implement the Bolton plan.

This is a time for American leadership and moral clarity. In light of the dangers posed by the fraudulent Iran nuclear deal and how it has harmed the Iranian people, President Trump has only one course of action: kill the Iran nuclear deal ASAP, using the Bolton plan. This would be a very powerful gesture that fulfills his campaign promise to make America safe again.

Fred Fleitz was chief of staff to Under Secretary of State John Bolton from 2001 to 2005. He served in national security positions for 25 years with the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the State Department and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is now senior vice president of the Center for Security Policy.