Washington, DC – 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 in response to President Trump’s failed certification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action:
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“Trump’s failed certification of the Iran nuclear deal is a politically motivated and self-destructive act that risking undoing years of careful diplomatic efforts. The fact that Trump is backing down from asking Congress to immediately snap-back nuclear sanctions is of little comfort. U.S. credibility is already in question thanks to the President’s antics leading up to his decision and the nuclear deal still remains in jeopardy.
“Any effort to unilaterally extort other countries of the P5+1 to renegotiate the deal and change the goalpost is a violation of the deal, by definition. It doesn’t matter what fancy words are used to describe the process, in reality it is nothing short of the U.S. reneging on its word.
“Trump has failed to commit that the U.S. will stay true to its word and abide by the deal. He has kicked the issue down to Congress with instructions to attempt to coerce our allies as well as Iran to reopen the painstaking negotiations that took 12 years to conclude. Extortion is not a sound diplomatic strategy and the President’s actions on this issue have significantly weakened his hand.
“This opens the door for Iran to respond in kind by also threatening to renege on is commitments lest the U.S. gives it additional concessions. This is a recipe for disaster. The deal can not survive these attacks on it, triggered by Trump’s decertification.
“In effect, Trump’s advisers forced the President to eat his vegetables in order to be served dessert. He doesn’t get to tear the deal up today, but he is demanding that Congress take actions that would tear up the deal on his behalf. So far, similar to the effort to destroy Obamacare, Trump has discovered that his fellow critics of the agreement have no real alternative. If Trump has succeeded at anything, it has been his ability to accidentally call the bluff of his colleagues on the Hill. On this issue of war and peace, cooler heads must prevail in Congress.
“Notably, one of the areas where Trump has apparently backed down is on designating the IRGC as a terrorist group, a move long opposed by the Pentagon but fervently supported by hawkish Washington organizations. It appears that there are still some adults in the room who were willing to convince the President to back down on a move that would have put U.S. troops in danger and united opposing factions inside of Iran to the detriment of moderate interests.
“Unfortunately, in Washington it still sounds like the threat of war with Iran is returning. Sen. Tom Cotton is the apparent brainchild of Trump’s new approach, and Cotton has made no secret of his desire to bomb Iran. Cotton and even experts testifying at Congressional committees in recent days have been encouraging lawmakers to prepare for strikes on the Iranian homeland. The hard work to stabilize the nuclear accord and forestall war with Iran will continue in the months ahead, and the Iranian-American community will be at the forefront of that effort.”
“If the accord continues to unravel, the U.S. and Iran will be back on the path to war. As former Secretary of State John Kerry warned earlier this year, prior to the deal ‘Leaders in the region were saying to me personally, and to the president, President Obama, you should bomb these guys.’ The Obama administration wisely stepped back from the nuclear brink and invested in diplomacy. Now, Trump appears to be inching back towards that brink and it will be up to Congress to stop him.”