Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says President Trump needs to coordinate an information campaign that will reach literally around the world to build support for an American announcement that Iran is in violation of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal.
The agreement is not a treaty because it was never considered by the U.S. Senate, and so it can be changed by a president’s decision.
Bolton explains in a new column at the Gatestone Institute that then-chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, who resigned Aug. 18, asked him to “draw up” a “game plan” for defining a compelling rationale to exit the “failed nuclear deal.”
“I offer the paper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible,” he explained.
He explains that Trump already twice has certified Iran as being in compliance, but notes that before the second announcement, “Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred.”
“But no such options were forthcoming, despite ‘a sharp series of exchanges’ between the president and his advisers,” he writes.
A new way forward is need, he says, because the Obama deal “is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day.”
To move forward with uncovering Iran’s perfidy and make progress on U.S. security, he says, “a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.”
To do that, the U.S., “must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel.”
“The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level international; demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States.”
He says “we can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.”
The real work will be assuring “the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security.”
“The administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran’s unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests,” he explained. “The administration’s explanation in a ‘white paper’ should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the administration’s decision.”
He explains that even the Obama administration “knew the JCPOA was so disadvantageous to the United States that it feared to submit the agreement for Senate ratification.”
“Moreover, key American allies in the Middle East directly affected by this agreement, especially Israel and the Gulf states, did not have their legitimate interests adequately taken into account. The explanation must also demonstrate the linkage between Iran and North Korea.”
Then there’s Iran’s role as the world’s “central banker” for terror, he points out.
To succeed, the U.S. needs to have quiet consultations with the U.K., France, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia to explain the plan, prepare the evidence, expand diplomatic efforts to focus on Iran and pull together congressional actions.
“Our embassies worldwide should demarche their host governments with talking points (tailored as may be necessary) and data to explain and justify abrogating JCPOA. We will need parallel efforts at the United Nations and other appropriate multilateral organizations. Our embassies should not limit themselves to delivering the demarche, however, but should undertake extensive public diplomacy as well,” he says.
“The next objective should be to recreate a new counter-proliferation coalition to replace the one squandered by the previous administration, including our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states. In that regard, we should solicit suggestions for imposing new sanctions on Iran and other measures in response to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, sponsorship of terrorism, and generally belligerent behavior, including its meddling in Iraq and Syria.”
Other options should include ending docking rights for Iranian aircraft and ships, ending visas for Iranians, including student and sports visas, demanding payment for outstanding U.S. judgments against Iran for terror, expediting delivery of bunker-buster bombs, and announcing support for Kurdish national aspirations.
“This effort should be the administration’s highest diplomatic priority, commanding all necessary time, attention, and resources,” Bolton recommends. “We can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran.”
It was reported just days ago the Trump administration was giving “strong indications” it was preparing a case to decertify Iran’s compliance with the international nuclear agreement.
Trump last certification of Iran was a mistake, Bolton says.
Bolton, who served U.N. ambassador during the first term of the George W. Bush administration, says the foreign policy bureaucracy is a powerful force in Washington.
“It was the bureaucracy on autopilot from the Obama administration. If you don’t tell them to change direction, they just keep doing what they were doing before,” says Bolton.