As Iran Deal is Recertified, Trump Seeks to Derail It
On the radar: Trump plays dangerous games with Iran Deal; Dumb reasons to dump Iran Deal; Misunderstanding the Iran Deal; Dunford: New Korean conflict would be worse than WWII; Keep Trump’s finger off the button; Russia threatened by Europe’s defensive missiles; Ban Treaty is reality, U.S. needs to get on board
Iran Deal is not a game - “The Trump administration last week certified that Iran is complying with the international agreement placing limits on its nuclear program – but for a while it looked as if the certification wouldn’t happen,” writes the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. “On Friday, Foreign Policy magazine ominously reported that Trump this week assigned White House staffers, rather than the State Department, to make the potential case for withholding certification of Iran at the next 90-day review of the nuclear deal.”
--“The uncertainty is bad for two reasons: It creates divisions with U.S. allies, which overwhelmingly support the nuclear agreement, and it could tempt Iran to abrogate the agreement. After all, the deal has already granted Iran much of the relief it sought from economic sanctions… It’s time for Trump to stop playing games with U.S. support for the nuclear agreement. So long as Iran complies with the terms, the U.S. should live up to its obligations.” Full article here.
Trump’s Iran Deal excuses - “Trump is looking for a way to ignore reality on the nuclear deal,” writes Daniel Larson for The American Conservative. “The State Department couldn’t honestly give Trump the ‘option’ he wanted because there is no proof that Iran isn’t complying with the terms of the agreement. When all other parties to the deal and the IAEA agree that the deal is working as intended, it isn’t credible to assert that Iran isn’t complying without simply making things up. Trump wants his advisers in the White House to do just that.”
--“The trouble here isn’t just that Trump is desperate to find a way to renege on the deal, but that he wants to do so when the deal is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. That is what comes from Trump’s Iran obsession and his reflexive hostility to anything associated with Obama… Trump hasn’t scrapped the deal yet, but he clearly wants to and it is just a matter of time before he does. That will be detrimental to U.S. security, the security of the region, and the cause of nonproliferation, and Trump and the U.S. will receive full blame from our allies for undermining the agreement.” Full article here.
Take action - Watch Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione’s panel at the Aspen Security Forum here. He makes the case for engagement, arguing that it’s the only thing that’s ever stopped the North Korean nuclear program. He is joined by Christopher Hill, Ahn Ho-young, Mark Lippert and Gordon Chang.
See also - Joe Cirincione also appeared on the The Bill Press Show on Monday morning with an Aspen Security Forum debrief. Watch it here.
Bad reasons to ditch the Iran Deal - “Many incoming members of the Trump administration felt strongly that the Obama administration—and perhaps even the Bush administration before it—dropped the ball on meeting the challenges posed by Iran,” writes Andrew Exum for The Atlantic. Exum argues that the Trump administration fails to see “the admittedly very real challenges presented by Iran outside the binary U.S.-Iranian contest for influence in the Middle East.”
--Yet tackling the nuclear issue is critical to stability: “I’m struck by the words of one of our most senior military commanders in the waning days of the Obama administration: ‘The more I look at North Korea, the more thankful I am for the Iran deal.’” Exum adds that “members of the Trump administration might be tempted to do things not because they are wise but simply because they reverse things the Obama administration did. When it comes to the Iran deal, that would be a mistake of epic proportions.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “Ask an Expert: The Iran Deal Two Years Later” an interview with Wendy Sherman and Richard Nephew for The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation here.
Conflict with DPRK would be “horrific” - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford spoke about a possible conflict with North Korea at the Aspen Security Forum earlier this week. “‘Many people have talked about military options with words like ‘unimaginable’,’ Dunford said. ‘I would probably shift that slightly and say it would be horrific, and it would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes, and I mean anyone who’s been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there’s a conflict on the Korean Peninsula,’” writes Nahal Toosi for POLITICO. For the full article, click here.
See also - “Top U.S. military commander says at Aspen Security Forum potential conflict with North Korea would be ‘horrific’ loss of life” by Scott Condon for The Aspen Times here.
Trump and nukes - a bad combo - The Editorial Board of Scientific American wrote that “in just five minutes an American president could put all of humanity in jeopardy. Most nuclear security experts believe that's how long it would take for as many as 400 land-based nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal to be loosed on enemy targets after an initial ‘go’ order. Ten minutes later a battalion of underwater nukes could join them. That unbridled power is a frightening prospect no matter who is president.”
--“There is no way to recall these missiles when they have launched, and there is no self-destruct switch. The act would likely set off a lethal cascade of retaliatory attacks, which is why strategists call this scenario mutually assured destruction. The ‘two-person rule,’ in place since World War II, requires that the actual order to launch be sent to two separate people. There is no comparable restraint on the president. He or she can decide to trigger a thermonuclear Armageddon without consulting anyone at all and never has to demonstrate mental fitness. This must change. We need to ensure at least some deliberation before the chief executive can act.” Full article here.
Rethinking European missile defense - “While the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) maintain that their missile defence system is purely defensive and against ballistic missile attacks from the Middle East, Russia sees it as a threat to its own nuclear deterrent and responds accordingly—notably by threatening the countries hosting the system’s components,” writes Tytti Erästö for the European Leadership Network. “The whole dynamics of the missile defence dispute remain poorly understood, for a number of reasons.”
--“Largely due to opposition by the U.S. Congress, the United States has repeatedly rebuffed Russian calls for legally binding limits to the anti-missile project. It is in the interests of regional security that the United States reinstate adaptability to EPAA by suspending Phase III in Poland. But this is unlikely as long as such a move is portrayed as yet another step away from U.S. commitments to NATO. The Trump administration thus needs a push from Europeans. The European Allies should demand an end to the expansion of missile defenses for the sake of consistency with previous NATO policy and the reality that Iran is not a threat, but a potential partner to Europe.” Full article here.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em - “In case you haven’t yet heard, nuclear weapons will soon be banned by international law,” writes Ploughshares Fund’s Roger L. Hale Fellow, Tytti Erästö, for The Hill. “Over 120 countries negotiated a Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty at the United Nations on 7 July. While the negotiators were fervently clapping their hands over what they see as the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, the response from the nuclear-armed states was deafening silence.”
--“Prior to the negotiations, the United States made little secret of its disdain for the treaty and also pressured allies to oppose it. Like it or not, the Prohibition Treaty is set to become international law, and hence it cannot be ignored into oblivion. The treaty enjoys broad international support, not just among the non-nuclear states but also the global civil society. Instead of swimming against the tide of history and global public opinion, the U.S. might find that its own interest in reducing nuclear threats would also be better served by going with the flow.” For the full article, click here.
--“Iran would withdraw from nuclear deal only if U.S. does it first: ex-FM” for the Tehran Times here.
--“Trump Assigns White House Team to Target Iran Nuclear Deal, Sidelining State Department” by Jana Winter, Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce for Foreign Policy here.
--“How Far Will Trump Go to Kill the Iran Nuclear Deal?” featuring Trita Parsi for The Real News Network. Watch the video here.
--“Does Trump Have America on a Path to War with Iran?” by Mike Pearl for VICE News here.
--“How to Take Down Kim Jong Un” by Tom Malinowski for POLITICO here.
--“Moscow is ready to discuss New START, but where is Washington?” by Maggie Tennis for Arms Control Association’s blog Arms Control Now here.
--“New nuclear ‘pit’ production at LANL is unnecessary” by Jay Coghlan for Albuquerque Journal here.
--“Candidate Trump called the Iran agreement “the stupidest deal of all time.” This week, he recertified it” by Daniel R. DePetris for Quartz here.
--“Could the Iran Nuclear Deal Unravel?” Hosted by the Wilson Center, with introduction by Hon. Jane Harman and moderator Aaron David Miller. Featuring Robert Litwak, Michael Singh and Ali Vaez. Wednesday, July 26, 2017. 10:00a.m.-11:00a.m. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. Details here.
--“Economic Levers of U.S. Policy Toward North Korea” Hosted by the Center for a New American Security. Moderated by Peter Harrell and featuring Dr. Patrick Cronin, Edward Fishman and Rachel Ziemba. Thursday, July 27, 2017. 9:30a.m.-11:00a.m. Center for a New American Security, 1152 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details and registration here.
--“The Ramifications of Rouhani's Reelection.” Hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. Moderated by Barbara Slavin, featuring Paul Pillar, Ebrahim Mohseni and Nadereh Chamlou. Friday, July 28, 2017. 12:00p.m. Atlantic Council, 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details and registration here.