President Trump was right on Iran

With the latest news that Iran shot down a United States Navy drone, it shows that President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE was right all along. The Iranian regime cannot be trusted, and appeasement was never a practical or realistic solution.

When President Trump announced the American withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year, his political opponents loudly criticized his strategy, arguing that the agreement signed under President Obama was the only way to contain Iranian nuclear ambitions. Since then, however, Iran has demonstrated that the skepticism that President Trump has held of the appeasement policy of his predecessor was in fact entirely justified.

President Trump has clearly understood that Tehran was only using the agreement as cover to continue advancing its nuclear aspirations, and that it had no intention of modifying its behavior. Likewise, the agreement did not effectively address other nefarious Iranian geopolitical activities, offering no meaningful incentive to prevent the country from sponsoring terrorist organizations or threatening American allies across the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Iran deal was “supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime,” President Trump explained when he withdrew from the agreement, adding it “allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and, over time, reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.” In other words, the nuclear deal was really an open solid path for Iran to develop weapons technology within the agreement.

Sadly, his concerns were well founded. Even before he abandoned the agreement, Israeli intelligence proved that Iran was lying when it insisted that it only wants nuclear technology for energy production. The Iranians have openly admitted its plans for breaking the deal in days. Instead of renegotiating the agreement, as President Trump repeatedly offered to do, or merely abiding by the terms of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty that it signed in 1968, Iran is in the process of exceeding the limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium outlined in the deal that it signed in 2015.

As President Trump noted last year, lifting the sanctions on Iran only allowed the dictatorship to use its new funds to build missiles, support terrorism, and “cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.” Iranian provocations have continued unabated since then. There were no research or development limits in the deal for the Iranian ballistic missile program that indeed continues for nuclear weapons delivery capability.

The official Iranian position is abjectly ridiculous. President Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement because the Iranian regime was already violating international law. Tehran is now seeking to blackmail the world by threatening to further violate the agreement that it never took seriously in the first place. Remember the deal was not actually a treaty, based on mistakes by former Senator Bob Corker when he negotiated it.

The reckless attack on commercial oil tankers in the Gulf further proves the point made by President Trump. The Iranian authoritarian regime is not interested in peace and diplomacy, so loosening sanctions will only encourage it to act even more aggressively. The American withdrawal from the deal was never going to correct Iranian behavior by itself, but it stopped the dangerous practice of rewarding Tehran for belligerence.

American allies must now follow the lead in Washington by terminating the nuclear deal, reimposing their own sanctions against the regime, and demanding an enforceable multilateral agreement that guarantees Iran will never acquire nuclear weapons. President Trump was right to kill the deal. The Iranian totalitarian theocracy is behaving just as he predicted, reminding the world that appeasement is a futile and foolish strategy.

Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer who served with the United States Army. He is now the president of the London Center for Policy Research and an adviser to the 2020 campaign of Donald Trump.