Trump's 'most foolish decision yet'

Trump's 'most foolish decision yet'

Former national security adviser Susan Rice has called President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal his “most foolish decision yet,” saying the move will leave an “inconstant America isolated from its allies and far less safe.”

“The Iran deal has worked as intended. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States intelligence community, the United Nations Security Council and the president’s top advisers, Iran has fully complied with its obligations,” Rice, who served under former President Barack Obama, wrote in an article for The New York Times.

“Instead, it is the United States that is about to unilaterally violate the very agreement it negotiated by reimposing nuclear-related sanctions while Iran remains in compliance,” she added.

President Trump announced on Tuesday -- days before a May 12 deadline -- that he was pulling the US out of the nuclear agreement, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was negotiated and signed by his predecessor.

In a televised speech from the White House, Trump also said that he would reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran. “We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanctions."

Trump’s decision risked alienating America’s European allies who warned the administration that the JPCOA was a multilateral pact that could not be terminated by only one party. It also raised the prospect of another conflict in the Middle East, they warned.

“Mr. Trump disregarded the pleas of our closest European allies, who worked for months to try to address his objections. Instead of reaching agreement with our allies, President Trump told them to get lost and now will penalize European companies for abiding by an agreement that is working,” Rice wrote in her piece.

The US Treasury Department has given “wind-down” periods of 90 to 180 days allowing companies to extricate themselves from their agreements with Iran in order to avoid US sanctions. That will pit the Trump administration against some of Europe’s biggest companies doing business with Iran.

“The political and economic consequences for our relationship with Europe will most likely be considerable,” said Rice, who is also a former ambassador to the United Nations.

Rice also warned that the costs of Trump’s decision to “American global leadership are steep.”

“When the United States unilaterally abrogates an international agreement in the absence of any breach, we undermine international perceptions of our reliability and responsibility. That is precisely what we have already done with the Paris climate agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But violating the Iran deal is far more dangerous.”

President Trump has railed against the 2015 nuclear accord for not addressing Iran’s missile development and its influence in the Middle East. But Tehran and other signatories to the deal say the JCPOA was negotiated and signed to solely address the perceived concerns about Iran’s nuclear program, and was never intended to address other issues.

Rice argued that by unilaterally abandoning the current agreement, the Trump administration made it even more difficult to address other regional concerns.

“Saudi Arabia and others in the region may push to obtain a nuclear capacity,” she said. “Russia and China’s position in the region will be bolstered at our expense. Israel may now rush into conflict with Iran, betting it can draw in the United States. Under any scenario, America will be less safe; and in the worst case, we could face the choice of going to war or acquiescing to a nuclear-armed Iran.”

The former national security adviser also said that jettisoning the nuclear agreement with Iran would complicate the ongoing negotiations with North Korea.

“If Mr. Trump thinks he is sending a strong message of resolve to North Korea, he is again mistaken. Instead, he is demonstrating to a far more advanced and unpredictable adversary on the eve of negotiations that the United States cannot be trusted,” she noted.

Rice said that Trump demonstrated to the world that any deal with Washington, however successful, “may be tossed aside on the whim of this or any other president,” adding that, “Our negotiating partners, including Japan, South Korea and China, will doubt our credibility when we most need to demonstrate collective resolve.”

“The president has just made the most foolish and consequential national security decision of his tenure. Exactly what comes next is unclear, but we certainly will face a far worse situation than today,” she wrote.

Rice predicted that when the implications of Trump’s decision fully materialize, the president will blame everyone else, including Democrats, Obama, the Europeans and Iran. “But there will be only one person responsible: President Trump, our wrecking ball in chief.”


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