Israeli analyst on Iran deal: ‘Trump talks the talk, but does he walk the walk?’

The president said he is “giving one more chance” to “fix” the Iran nuclear agreement but an Iranian born Israeli expects warns, “Fixing it is nixing it.”

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

“Trump’s remarks should be taken seriously, and whoever wants to keep the nuclear deal with Iran would be wise to fix it.” Those words from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following President Trump’s decision on Friday to extend the Iran nuclear agree for one last time…or else.

Trump has referred to the Obama administration’s Iran deal as the worst agreement every reached, and he has repeatedly disparaged the US agreement to waive key economic sanctions as part of the 2015 accord. Trump also warned in his statement that the waiver signed on Friday, which must be issued every 120 days to keep sanctions from kicking back in, will be the last one he issues.

Trump delivered a blunt ultimatum to European powers, saying, “Fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw from the agreement. He vowed, “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will never again waive sanctions in order to save the Iran nuclear deal… If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.”

Veteran Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger has been a regular supporter of Trump’s Middle East policies. But now that Trump has been in office for a full year, Ettinger is wondering whether the president really intends to follow through with his campaign promise to trash the agreement.

Is Trump being tough on Iran?

“At this stage the President is being tested,” Ettinger told World Israel News (WIN). Will his walk be consistent with his talk?” In other words, is Trump being tough on Iran, or is he just talking tough.

Ettinger said, “The only way for deterrence to be re-imposed is to take action on the ground.”

He then cited another area where he believes there is need for less talk and more action. “Aside from talking, the US has failed to provide Iranian protesters with any meaningful support as they take to the streets in anti-government protests. Aside from being verbally challenged, Iran must be physically confronted in its military adventures in Yemen, Iraq,  Syria, and the constant aggression against the Saudi’s and the gulf states.”

Trump made it clear that his comments on Friday were meant for the leaders of Europe. “I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws in the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance,” he declared.

Deal in most precarious position since July 2015

Trump’s threat to pull the US from the deal if his latest demands are not met leaves the nuclear agreement in its most precarious position since it was brokered between the Six World Powers and Iran in July 2015. “No one should doubt my word,” Trump stated.

Trump’s announcement did include new sanctions against 14 Iranian individuals and entities that have committed alleged human rights abuses or supported the country’s ballistic missile programs, which are outside the purview of the nuclear deal. Many of those new sanctions were in response to the Iranian government’s crackdown of peaceful protests that have swept the country in recent weeks.

Trump’s agreement to waive the sanctions came partly at the urging of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who warned the president that re-imposing the sanctions would likely be viewed by Iran as well as America’s European allies as breaking its commitments under the deal. But his agreement came only after congressional leaders assured him they are making progress on delivering a legislative fix that will strengthen the ‘Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act,’ including the “sunset clauses” in the deal that critics claim will allow Iran to return to its nuclear activities after a period of time.

Last October, Trump declined to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, accusing the Islamic Republic of committing “multiple violations of the agreement,” but stopped short of calling on Congress to re-impose sanctions.

Some critics expressed concern that Trump’s threats risk isolating the United States and may possibly move Iran toward renewing its pre-agreement nuclear weapons development. Iranian-born commentator Meir Javadanan told WIN, “Trumps’ threats cannot work. If he tries to change the deal, he is going to break it. It cannot be fixed. Terms have already been agreed to, so he cannot unilaterally change them. It’s a mute point. Iran will never agree to changes. Fixing it is nixing it.”

Danger to Israel

Javadanfan is concerned about damage that could be caused for Israel. “Today we have stringent IAEA (UN’s International Atomic and Energy Agency) checks on a daily basis. If this deal is scrapped by Trump, we are going to lose those inspections and that does no one, especially Israel, any good,” he said.