September 19, 2017

Trump and Netanyahu Risk Repeating Mistakes of Iraq War with Iran

Contact: Ryan Costello
Phone: 202-386-6325
Email: [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy, issued the following statement after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) during his speech before the UN General Assembly

“It is telling that Netanyahu, who has sought to undermine international diplomacy with Iran at nearly every turn, was one of the only observers impressed by Trump’s inflammatory UN General Assembly speech this morning. Both he and Trump appear determined to unravel the accord successfully preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon and war with Iran, regardless of the consequences.

“After the disaster of the Iraq war that Trump supposedly opposed, it is a sad state of affairs for Americans and the world to once again be subjected to lies and distortions as part of a campaign to sell a new confrontation, this time with Iran.

“The reality is that the Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, continues to fully affirm that Iran is complying with its commitments under the nuclear accord and that Iran is subject to the world’s most robust verification regime. This conclusion is shared by our allies in Europe, the U.S. intelligence community and Israel’s own security establishment. Yet, Trump and Netanyahu appear determined to repeat the mistakes that led the U.S. into Iraq.

“Netanyahu’s new demand to “fix” the nuclear deal was to make its restrictions permanent. He knows very well that is an impossibility. The entire premise of the nuclear deal was to punish Iran for past transgressions while also providing a path for Iran to restore the confidence of the international community that its nuclear program is solely peaceful. If that confidence is restored in the years ahead, Iran’s nuclear file would be normalized and it would be in good standing within the Non-Proliferation Treaty, though still subject to intrusive inspections.

“If this path towards normalization and regaining of confidence was not provided, Iran would have no incentive to agree to the deal. It was not going to agree to a deal that would see it permanently punished. Netanyahu is fully aware of this and is pushing this demand precisely because he knows it will kill the nuclear deal. His track record of consistently seeking to destroy any realistic nuclear deal with Iran speaks for itself.

“While it is reasonable to seek solutions regarding Iranian activities outside the scope of the nuclear sphere, it is counter to U.S. national security to unravel the nuclear accord on the basis of those concerns. Netanyahu’s alarmism on Iran’s nuclear program was itself critical to forcing the U.S. to prioritize the number one national security threat – that of an Iranian nuclear weapon – to all other concerns presented by Iran. Yet, it was diplomacy that resolved what seemed to be the most intractable of issues. It is diplomacy that must be utilized to resolve all other outstanding concerns.

“The notion that Trump can be trusted with re-negotiating the JCPOA, as Netanyahu suggested, is laughable. Not only did the agreement take two years to negotiate in the first place, but no other parties to the accord – including our partners in Europe – support re-opening the nuclear file. While NIAC strongly supports the administration engaging in serious negotiations with Iran to address other concerns – from regional security to detained Americans in Iran – the possibility of any future diplomacy bearing fruit hinges on the U.S. backing away from its threat to upend the most important agreement between the U.S. and Iran in more than three and a half decades.

“Trump has a clear choice. He can listen to Netanyahu and repeat the mistakes that led to the war in Iraq with Iran, thus squandering any credibility that the U.S. has as a leader on security issues, or he can step back from the brink and commit to the nuclear accord. In so doing, he would preserve his political capital for future security crises – including negotiations with North Korea. Unfortunately, in his shameful and outrageous speech this morning, Trump appears to be doubling down on the path that risks war and an undetectable Iranian nuclear weapon capability.”


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