8 May 2018   Leave a comment

US President Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA–the Iran Nuclear Agreement).  Here is a transcript of his speech with my annotations to the President’s comments.

My overview:  One can believe everything that President Trump said about Iran that threatens US and global security.  Yesterday, all those concerns were valid BUT Iran was constrained from developing nuclear weapons until at least 2025.  And all US intelligence verified that Iran was adhering to those constraints.  Tomorrow, all those concerns may be valid BUT Iran is free to develop nuclear weapons without any constraints whatsoever.  There was nothing in President Trump’s speech that suggested a plan to either tame Iranian behavior or to prevent its immediate pursuit of nuclear weapons.  Is the world better off tomorrow than it was yesterday?

We should also be aware that it is the US that is breaking the agreement, not Iran.  Since the US cannot identify any breach of the agreement by Iran, then the US withdrawal without a good reason is itself a breach.  The credibility of the US is now open to question.  What does its signature on an agreement really mean?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: My fellow Americans, Today, I want to update the world on our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

President Trump does not acknowledge that it was US action that gave Iran a decisive role in Middle East politics.  The overthrow of Saddam Hussein, who was an ardent foe of Iran and fought a disastrous war against Iran from 1980-88, in 2003 created an opportunity for Iran to increase its influence in the predominantly Shia population of Iraq.  Hussein was a bulwark of Sunni interests in the Middle East, protecting Saudi Arabia and, coincidentally, Israel.

Iran is a sworn enemy of the Taliban and al Qaeda.  They support Sunni regimes.  Iran supports Shia regimes.

Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens.

The 1998 United States embassy bombings in Uganda and Kenya were committed by Egyptian terrorists.  Egypt is an ally of the US.  A pro-Iranian group calling itself the Islamic Jihad Organization took responsibility for the bombing of the US Embassy in Lebanon in 1983.  It was never established that the Iranian government was involved in that attack.

The Iranian regime has funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people.

No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons — and the means of delivering them.

In 2015, the previous administration joined with other nations in a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A.

In theory, the so-called “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.

In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and — over time —reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

The key phrase is “over time”.  Iranian enrichment has verifiably stopped but those constraints will begin to end in 2025.  That gives the world 7 years to work on persuading Iran to continue to adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  After President Trump’s announcement toady, those 7 years could be lost.  As of yet, we do not know if Iran will begin to enrich Uranium again because of the US action.  It may, however, continue to adhere to the agreement in order to persuade Europe, China, and Russia to not follow the US lead.   We will soon find out.

The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity — and no limits at all on its other malign behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.

It is not clear that any agreement could ever have been reached that prevented Iran from aiding its allies or working on ballistic missiles capable of carrying conventionally armed warheads.  Today, it remains unclear if those objectives are achievable.  President Trump gave no indication of a plan to achieve those objectives.

In other words, at the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States.

President Trump neglected to note that these billions of dollars were Iranian money that been frozen in US banks.  The US did not “give” the money to Iran;  it returned the money to Iran.

A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn’t.

Again, it is easy to say that a deal could “easily” have been struck.  Details of a plan are necessary to be persuaded.

At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction: that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.

Note the use of the present tense.

Last week, Israel published intelligence documents — long concealed by Iran — conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presentation used documents that were all written before 2007.  The world was well aware of Iranian plans after 2003 but Iran decided not to develop nuclear bombs although it continued to develop the technology and resource base for nuclear bombs.  One should not look at the Iranian program in isolation, however.  Iran was surrounded by nuclear armed powers:  Russia, China, Pakistan, India, and Israel.  In addition, US forces were on Iranian borders in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan and all US forces had access to nuclear weapons.  In that context, the pursuit of a nuclear capability does not necessarily indicate offensive intentions.

More importantly, all US intelligence agencies were in agreement that Iran had adhered to the agreement on enrichment.  The US officials that have testified publicly about that assessment include Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Lieutenant General Vincent R. Stewart, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

The fact is, this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.

In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40 percent — while its economy is doing very badly. After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build its nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time.

The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable.

Probably better than zero days.

If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.

Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities.

The inability to inspect military facilities is a feature of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  No signatory to the NPT ever gave rights to the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect military sites.  That exclusion was demanded by the US in 1968 as a condition for its signature.  Why should Iran be the only country required to open up its military bases to outsiders?

Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.

Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism.

Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen. In light of these glaring flaws, I announced last October that the Iran deal must either be renegotiated or terminated.

Three months later, on January 12th, I repeated these conditions. I made clear that if the deal could not be fixed, the United States would no longer be a party to the agreement.

Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

This history, if accurate suggests that no amount of negotiation will ever attain the objectives that President Trump desires.  If previous negotiations have been sincerely pursued and failed, then if President still wants to attain those objectives, then the only alternative is war. 

We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East. We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen.

Which may be the same thing that will now happen. 

In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.

We do not know exactly what this means.  All of the partners to the JCPOA have signed oil contracts with Iran.  Does this mean that the US will penalize Germany, France, and Great Britain for buying Iranian oil?  Switzerland, China, Pakistan, India, and Italy have also bought oil from Iran.  Will they be punished?  Does Trump’s threat include the exclusion of Iran from The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) which would prevent Iranian banks from engaging in international financial transactions?  Iranian banks were invited back into SWIFT in February 2016 after the JCPOA was signed.  Will SWIFT, which is based in Belgium, follow an American demand to exclude Iranian banks in the absence of a clear violation by Iran of the JCPOA?

America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. And we will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth.

Today’s action sends a critical message. The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made, relationships are building.

A very interesting pivot.  We will see how the US decision affects the upcoming summit between the US and North Korea.  As I posted on 27 April, I am quite skeptical of any agreement on denuclearization. 

Hopefully, a deal will happen, and with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.

As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program, to stop its terroristactivities worldwide, and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East.

In the meantime, powerful sanction also go into full effect. If the regime continues its its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before. Finally, I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran.

The people of America stand with you.

The people of Iran remember that the US helped to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953.  And that the US invaded Iran to rescue American hostages in in 1980.

It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.

But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land, and they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history and glory to God.
Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal. They refuse, and that’s fine. I’d probably say the same thing if I was in their position. But the fact is, they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefitsall of Iran and the Iranian people.

When they do, I am ready, willing, and able. Great things can happen for Iran.

And great things can happen for the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East. There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now. Thank you. God bless you. Thank you.

Posted May 8, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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