[Vision2020] Obama Responds to Trump's Iran Pull-Out

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Wed May 9 09:12:29 PDT 2018

Former President Barack Obama released a statement after Trump withdrew the
US from the Iran nuclear deal that amounted to a point by point debunking
of Trump’s falsehoods about the agreement.

The statement provided to PoliticusUSA by Obama’s office is lengthy but

There are few issues more important to the security of the United States
than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even
more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States
negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first

The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our
European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of
Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled
back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy
can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what
the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea.
Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to
succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes
– with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.

That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the
JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our
country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals
negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and
priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting
of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s
credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.

Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that
have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about
the JCPOA.

First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and
the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition
that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA
together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union,
Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal,
unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For
decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the
point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a
bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was
implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have
produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges
(over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and
eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw
materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed
strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.

Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most
far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms
control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored.
International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply
chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this
monitoring and inspections regime would go away.

Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of
my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued
to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has
reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the
international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a
nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive
inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the
provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen
until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is
little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.

Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with
Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior –
including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its
neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent
Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that
is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is
unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and
to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the
JCPOA, and weakened without it.

Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at
risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake.
Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing
choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We
all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden
an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose
unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in
the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear
program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are
faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to
prevent it.

In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong,
principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years
since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats,
many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that
Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong,
principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our
country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.
Obama made a critical point

Much of Trump’s argument for killing the Iran deal was based on the false
premise that the deal was a failure if it didn’t address all of the
problems with Iran’s behavior, but the nuclear deal was never meant to do
that. By design, it dealt with Iran’s nuclear program. Republicans have
used this rhetorical device on the issue of health care, for example, as
well. It is a false argument that seeks to turn something successful into a

It is rare for a former president to come out with such a strong statement
against an action taken by a current president. All evidence and even
members of Trump’s own administration say that the deal was working.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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