This afternoon, President Donald J. Trump announced he was withdrawing from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.
In so doing, Trump is putting US national-security interests at grave risk, all while alienating our closest allies and making the US appear as a rogue state in the eyes of the world.
In his remarks from the White House Diplomatic Room, Trump claimed that at the heart of the Iran deal “was a giant fiction.”
Yet it soon became clear that his decision is based on not one but several fictions, the first being that the Iran deal only benefits one nation, Iran. And because Iran is, according to Trump and his newly installed neoconservative brain trust, “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” it cannot be trusted to abide by the terms of the deal.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s remarks were riddled with falsehoods and disingenuous claims relating to the deal.
Trump said that the deal would do nothing to stop Iran’s “sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.” But it wasn’t meant to; the deal was only meant to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions, not its geopolitical ones.
Trump declared “we have definitive proof” that Iran’s claim that it seeks only a peaceful nuclear-energy program is “a lie.”
Yet Trump put forward no evidence that Iran was not fulfilling its commitments under the deal. And probably for very good reason: In recent weeks, both of his top-ranking intelligence officials, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates and then–CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have testified before Congress that neither of them has seen any evidence that Iran is in breach of its commitments.
Indeed, as recently as March 5, IAEA director general Yukia Amano stated, “As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.” None of the other signatories has seen any sign of Iranian violations of the JCPOA either.
Trump also claimed that the deal does not permit inspections of Iranian military sites. Said Trump, “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.” This, according to the co-director of the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program, James Acton, is “an out-and-out lie.”