President Trump “is absolutely going to withdraw” from the Iran deal if nothing changes in the next three weeks, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker.
May 12 is the deadline for the president to make a decision on whether he will continue to waive U.S. sanctions on Iran. The nation has insisted it won’t honor terms of the 2015 deal if the U.S. re-imposes the sanctions.
At a breakfast Wednesday that was hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Sen. Corker said the only real chance of stopping a withdrawal would be if America’s European allies quickly develop a “framework” that addresses President Trump’s concerns regarding the Obama-era agreement. Short of that happening before May 12, Sen. Corker said President Trump is certain to abandon the deal.
“If nothing changes between now and May 12, the president is absolutely going to withdraw from the agreement,” Sen. Corker said.
“Many people around the president,” he said, would prefer a diplomatic agreement that would effectively apply U.S.-European pressure on Iran to comply with all the terms of the deal without ending the U.S. role in it.
Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel plan to visit Washington by the end of April, and the Iran deal is expected to be a major topic during their visits.
Sen. Corker explained that recent joint strikes in Syria conducted by the U.S., British and French forces may indicate that there’s still a chance to come to a mutual agreement regarding Iran.
President Trump has said Iran has failed to honor its side of the agreement, particularly with regard to its ballistic missiles, inspections on suspected nuclear sites and moves to destabilize the Middle East.
The U.S. has pushed for extensions on the so-called “sunset” provision that will ultimately lift some restrictions on Iran.
Sen. Corker said Germany “especially feels like dealing with the sunset [issue] is changing the deal.”
While some analysts warn that abandoning or undermining the nuclear agreement with Iran could make negotiations with North Korea far more challenging, Corker downplayed those concerns. He said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has a different perspective on his nuclear weapons program than Iran’s leaders do.
“[Kim] views having nuclear weapons … as his ticket to die as an old man in his bed,” Sen. Corker said. “And he watched [Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi give up his weapons [and] lose his ticket to die as an old man in his bed.”
Corker said the issue of how the U.S. deals with Iran and the nuclear agreement there “is a speck of sand for Kim compared to the bigger issue of how his regime will survive.”
In mid-March, news reports indicated President Trump abruptly fired former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson because Tillerson went “rogue” and tried to salvage the U.S. role in the Iran deal. The reason for Tillerson’s firing was revealed by the Washington Free Beacon in a report that cited “multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.” The Free Beacon stated:
In the weeks leading up to Tillerson’s departure, he had been spearheading efforts to convince European allies to agree to a range of fixes to the nuclear deal that would address Iran’s ongoing ballistic missile program and continued nuclear research.
While Trump had prescribed a range of fixes that he viewed as tightening the deal’s flaws, Tillerson recently caved to European pressure to walk back these demands and appease Tehran while preserving the deal, according to these sources. …
White House allies warned Tillerson’s senior staff for weeks that efforts to save the nuclear deal and balk on Trump’s key demands regarding the deal could cost Tillerson his job, a warning that became reality Tuesday when Trump fired Tillerson by tweet.
Multiple sources told the Free Beacon that the former secretary of state repeatedly tried to push his own diplomatic agenda, especially on Iran, and the Trump administration simply had enough.
President Trump selected CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace Tillerson. Pompeo served in Congress and has a history of drawing a hard line on Iran. He is expected to advocate many of the solutions proposed by President Trump such as banning Iran’s ballistic missile program and pushing for strict penalties if Iran breaches the agreement.
The president also fired national security adviser H.R. McMaster on March 22 and announced that former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton would take his place.
During an exclusive interview with WND in February 2016, John Bolton, who has since become President Trump’s national security adviser, said Iran has learned that the U.S. will “surrender” if it is persistent enough.
“[The deal] gives Iran all of the economic advantages—the unfreezing of the assets, the lifting of the sanctions—and does not put any material barriers in the way of their continuing to develop deliverable nuclear weapons,” Bolton said. “They’re going to be able to conceal what they’re doing from the [International Atomic Energy Agency]. They’re not going to do it at the sites the IAEA knows about; they’re going to do it elsewhere, maybe including in North Korea.”
He said the Obama administration sent the signal to nations that are hostile to the U.S. that “the door is open.”
I just think it’s a lesson to would-be nuclear weapons states and states that are hostile to the United States that, at least in this administration, the door is open.
Before President Trump was elected to the White House, WND asked Bolton, “What’s the best way for the U.S. to handle an Iran that refuses to abide by the terms of the nuclear deal?”
He replied: “The new president ought to abrogate the deal immediately. … You step up intelligence activities in Iran and with respect to North Korea. You’ve got to work the North Korea side of it as well, because I do think there’s cooperation both on ballistic missiles and the nuclear side. And you go back to our Arab friends – the Saudis, the Egyptians and others – and say, ‘Sanity has been restored in Washington. Now let’s talk seriously about what we’re going to do together.'”
Bolton added: “If politically you say we have no choice but to live with the deal, then you’re saying politically we have no choice but to accept a nuclear Iran. And I don’t accept that.”