Throughout the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald J. Trump repeatedly lambasted the landmark Iranian nuclear accord as “the worst deal ever.” Trump promised supporters on numerous occasions that, should he succeed President Obama, he would “rip up” the international agreement.
And for once, Trump seems as good as his word: In July he grudgingly certified that Iran was in compliance with the terms of the deal, but it was clear by then that he was looking for a way out. Since the US president is required by Congress to certify the deal every 90 days, Trump has been doubling down on his efforts to “rip up” the deal in the remaining time leading up to the next certification in October.
The New York Times recently reported that Trump has said that “If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.” (Who exactly did he think it was up to?)
Nevertheless, in an unwelcome echo of the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, David Cohen, who served as CIA deputy director from 2015 to ’17, claims that the administration is cherry-picking intelligence in order to bolster its case for pulling out of the deal.
Cohen warned CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that “If our intelligence is degraded because it is politicized in the way that it looks like the president wants to do here, that undermines the utility of that intelligence all across the board.”
But, for now, as The Guardian reports, “Intelligence analysts, chastened by the experience of the 2003 Iraq war, are said to be resisting the pressure to come up with evidence of Iranian violations.”
Nevertheless, a group of former top US diplomats, including John Kerry and Nicholas Burns, who formed the advocacy group Diplomacy Works, are accusing the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley of “pressuring the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to begin inspecting Iranian military sites for nuclear activities without any clear evidence these activities exists.”
For its part, the National Iranian American Council sees evidence “mounting that the U.S. is trying to unilaterally withdrawal from the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. There appears to be little other way to explain Amb. Nikki Haley’s efforts to stir up controversy in the media over IAEA inspections of non-nuclear military sites in Iran.”