By Sen. Bernie Sanders
Last week, Donald Trump made one of the most reckless moves of his presidency: withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear agreement. With this decision, the president discarded years of hard work by our diplomats, who had obtained an extremely rigorous set of restrictions and inspections guaranteeing that Iran would not obtain a nuclear weapon. He also slammed the door on a once-promising possibility of detente between the US and Iran.
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It’s important to understand that the JCPOA is not just an agreement between the US and Iran, but one negotiated alongside our partners in the P5+1 – the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – and endorsed by the United Nations security council. Trump’s withdrawal further deepens tensions with our most important democratic allies, France, the UK and Germany, who all continue to support the agreement and have consistently said that it is in their own national security interests to see it upheld.
Trump also rejected the advice of his own top national security officials like the joint chiefs chairman, Gen Joseph Dunford, and defense secretary, James Mattis, both of whom have repeatedly stated that staying in the agreement is in the national security interests of the US. Nuclear non-proliferation and national security professionals around the world share that assessment. Just as he has done on the issue of climate change with his withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, Trump has chosen to ignore the overwhelming expert consensus and sided instead with a small ideological faction, with disastrous consequences for our global security.
Withdrawing from the JCPOA also seriously harms the US’s ability to negotiate future non-proliferation agreements, such as one with North Korea. Why would any country in the world sign such an agreement with the US and make the tough concessions that any such agreement requires if they thought that a reckless president might simply discard that agreement a few years later?