Trump Should End the Iran Nuclear Deal
On the day when Jews were celebrating Simchat Torah, US President Donald Trump was making history by speaking boldly against the Iran nuclear agreement.
Trump decided not to recertify the disastrous deal, giving Congress the option of imposing crippling economic sanctions against Iran for its support of terror and illegal ballistic missile program.
In my view, only this kind of pressure on Iran and its international business partners might actually stop Iran from going nuclear — the pivotal end-goal that the current deal fails to precent.
Yet in the Jewish community, barely a word has been uttered by leaders and activists alike about the need for Congress to kill the Iran nuclear deal entirely — a vote that would require all 52 Republican senators being joined by eight Democrats.
Even those Jewish activists who worked tirelessly to stop the deal back in 2015 have gone mum. AIPAC, the Jewish community’s most important lobby, heroically spent tens of millions of dollars and organized massive fly-ins of supporters to Congress in an effort to stop Obama from agreeing to the deal in 2015. What are its plans now? Will a lobbying effort be launched to kill the deal this time?
Many previous opponents of the deal have been seduced by the chorus of those begging Trump not to scrap the deal — one that has been as loud as it has been constant.
The arguments offered by these advocates generally boil down to the same two points. Firstly, if we abandon the deal, our international reputation will suffer, and show that we can’t be trusted. Second, even if we do opt out, our allies may not follow. In other words, we’ve lost our leverage.
But these arguments don’t hold up.
Let’s start with the primary point raised by the deal’s supporters: if America pulls out of a deal that it signed onto, our international standing will take a debilitating hit. After all, who will ever want to sign an agreement with a partner that has a history of pulling out?
Firstly, the dangers of a nuclear Iran more than justify the deal’s revocation by a new administration. This is especially true considering the fact that, as a democracy, administration and policy changes are to be expected from the United States. It might not be something that a dictatorship like Iran can understand, but it is something that we — as Americans — certainly should.
It was Senator Tom Cotton who famously wrote to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that since President Barack Obama chose not to ratify the deal with Congress, it could be revoked by a different president with the stroke of a pen.
Yet much more critical is the fact that Iran isn’t keeping to the spirit — or legal letter — of the deal.
In September, Israeli intelligence officials reportedly learned that international IAEA inspectors were denied entry into a critical Iranian military installation at Parchin. Recently the Institute for Science and International Security, a conglomerate of leading scientists, released a report demanding that the IAEA gain access to Parchin, an area that they said was marked by “plenty of evidence of past Iranian nuclear weapons activity” and most likely houses high-explosive storage bunkers and shock-physics laboratories.
Though the Obama nuclear deal stipulates that Iran must give inspectors access to all sites of suspected nuclear development, an official from Iran’s nuclear implementation committee announced quite bluntly last week that “Americans will not be allowed to inspect the military bases.”
So much for Iran’s cooperation.
Moreover, those heralding the reputational risks ignore the far-more delegitimizing effects of continued American support for the deal. After all, in signing the Iran agreement, America endangered some of its most important allies — such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and, most importantly, Israel — all of whom legitimately fear Iranian hegemony in the Middle East. In fact, we’re already feeling the effects of the plummeting value of our friendships.
Two weeks ago, King Salman of Saudi Arabia made the first ever royal visit to America’s foremost international competitor, Vladimir Putin’s Russia. According to The Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, the message of the visit was clear: “The kingdom [is] looking to diversify into wider set of alliances,” due no doubt in part to their “fears about US reliability.”
America must stop Iran from seizing control of the region, and restore the faith of our most dependable allies. To continue to prioritize a horrible agreement with a sworn and swindling enemy, over decades-old alliances with vital and moral friends like Israel, amounts to sheer folly.
This brings us to the most commonly used argument for why America can’t retreat from the Iran deal: because Europe and Asia won’t follow suit. So long as they refuse to sanction Iran, the rogue regime in Tehran will maintain the economic capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
To this, I respond simply: Russia, China and Europe will abide by any move we make.
The United States, the world’s largest economy, boasts a financial system worth a whopping $19 trillion. No major economy will risk losing access to that. Certainly not in exchange for access to Iran’s $400 billion economy.
Sure, Russia, China, and Europe will threaten non-compliance. But in the end, they’ll comply. In fact — as explained by Richard Goldberg, one of the leading architects of congressional sanctions against Iran — that’s exactly the pattern. When Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) put together a bill imposing crippling sanctions on the National Bank of Iran, a “livid” Obama administration begged them to withdraw.
European allies, they warned, had sworn not to comply. In the end, “every European and Asian ally that had come to Capitol Hill to lobby against the amendment fully complied with it after it came into force.” The same occurred months later, when Europeans refused to cut Iran out of the global SWIFT financial network. Legislation was drafted to cut SWIFT out of US markets, and the Europeans gave in.
The lesson, according to Golberg: “Cry as they might along the way, no European or Asian corporation is going to choose a terrorist regime over access to the U.S. dollar.”
In short, our country already has the power to stop Iran. Or, to speak President Trump’s language, America is already great enough.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 31 books, including “Judaism for Everyone.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.