Obama, Kerry slam Trump’s withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

Architects of the 2015 nuclear accord call the president’s announcement to nix it a “serious mistake.”

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

It was the signature deal of Barack Obama’s presidency, and President Trump’s dramatic announcement Tuesday that he was withdrawing from it engendered very sharp reactions from both the former president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, who oversaw the negotiations with Iran.

Obama reiterated the main argument he made when Congress was debating in 2015 whether to agree to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear accord.

“Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East,” he said, adding that a nuclear Iran “could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region.”

He also invoked the upcoming US negotiations with North Korea as another reason why the president’s decision was “so misguided.”

“The consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to, risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers,” his statement continued.

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What Obama left out of his statement is that the JCPOA was an international compact that was entered into by the United States only through an executive agreement signed by Obama. It was never a treaty ratified by Congress. The White House deliberately constructed it differently since a treaty needs to be approved by two-thirds of Congress, a hurdle which many believe the JCPOA never could have overcome.

Indeed, over 50 senators voted to disapprove the deal the three times they tried, while in the House of Representatives the various resolutions introduced against different parts of the deal were handily won by deal’s opponents. However, the requirement in this case was to get veto-proof and filibuster-proof majorities to kill the accord, and this could not be done.

Kerry claims withdrawal hurts Israel

Kerry’s condemnation of the pullout perhaps surprisingly mentioned Israel specifically as being a potential loser from Trump’s move, even though Jerusalem has always stood firmly against the accord and praised Trump unstintingly for keeping his campaign promise to get America out of the “horrible deal,” as Trump repeatedly called it.

“Today’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future Administrations to make international agreements,” Kerry said in his statement.

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Earlier in the week, Trump condemned Kerry for conducting “shadow diplomacy” over recent weeks with both the Iranians and fellow-signatories in Europe to try to preserve the deal, calling his meetings “possibly illegal.” Kerry’s spokesman rejected the accusation in a written statement.

“I think every American would want every voice possible urging Iran to remain in compliance with the nuclear agreement that prevented a war…. Like America’s closest allies, he believes it is important that the nuclear agreement, which took the world years to negotiate, remain effective as countries focus on stability in the region,” stated Kerry’s spokesman.