By Threatening Iran Deal, Trump Puts U.S. at Risk

In diplomacy, words have meaning - “The last thing the United States needs is another war in the Middle East. Yet a drumbeat of provocative words, outright threats and actions — from President Trump and some of his top aides as well as Sunni Arab leaders and American activists — is raising tensions that could lead to armed conflict with Iran,” reports The New York Times Editorial Board.

--“Iran and the United States appear to be entering a particularly risky time. As the Islamic State gets pushed out of Iraq and Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, along with their proxy forces, will be competing for control. Any attempt at regime change in Iran could destabilize the volatile Middle East in even more unpredictable ways. Mr. Trump would make a grave mistake if instead of trying to work with... moderate forces he led the nation closer to war.” Full article, click here.

See Also - “Trump Risks War With New Iran Sanctions” by Paul D. Shinkman for U.S. News and World Report here.

Trumps dangerous incoherence on Iran - “Trump’s behavior and the administration’s insistence on coupling every certification with over the top, belligerent rhetoric may be setting the United States up to walk away from the nuclear agreement on the worst terms possible,” writes Ilan Goldenberg for Foreign Policy. “If the United States is blamed for the collapse by its P5+1 partners… The end result will be an Iran that is no longer constrained by the nuclear obligations of the deal but is not under severe economic pressure.”

--“It is hard to explain why the administration is pursuing these incoherent and contradictory steps. What appears to be driving it is a similar dynamic to what we see with healthcare. The American public has moved on from both the healthcare debate and the Iran debate. It is ready to focus on new issues. But Trump has no clear agenda or policies of his own, and in their absence he is simply trying to tear down Obama’s key domestic and foreign policy achievements, with little understanding or care for what might replace them.” Full article here.

Tweet - @ColinKahl: Team Trump & outside hawks are laying the argumentative foundation to walk away from the Iran deal, with disastrous consequences.1/

Take action - Senator Bernie Sanders sits down with former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to discuss the threat of a nuclear North Korea. They discuss the need to initiate negotiations with North Korea. Mr. Perry tells the Senator that “North Korea is not a crazy nation. They are reckless, they are ruthless ruthless, but they are not crazy. They are open to logic and to reason. [Kim Jong Un] is a leader we need to negotiate with.” To listen to their entire discussion, click here.

JCPOA critical to peace with Iran - “If the United States is the one to pull out of the deal, falsely claiming Iran is acting in violation of the agreement, those other major countries won’t play along with us,” writes John Glaser for CATO Institute’s CATO At Liberty blog. “Americans should now be well aware of the dire consequences of permitting hawkish presidential administrations to rush headlong into war and regime change in the Middle East. Iraq cost us, and the region, dearly. A confrontation with Iran would be an order of magnitude worse. All Trump needs to do to avoid that is admit the truth and certify that Iran is complying with the JCPOA.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Regime Change in Iran Would Be a Disaster for Everyone” by Michael Axworthy for Foreign Policy here.

Iran’s case for U.S. violation - “Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, charged on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s attempt to reimpose sanctions on his country was a violation of the accord signed two years ago that sharply limited Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material in return for its reintegration into the world economy,” write David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone for The New York Times. “‘They have been talking about ‘scrapping the deal’,’ said Mr. Zarif. ‘Then they came to realize that would not be globally welcome. So now they are trying to make it impossible for Iran to benefit.’”

--“‘It is not clear what the administration is trying to do,’ said Mr. Zarif. Whether the Trump administration is actively violating the agreement by reimposing sanctions under a different rationale is a debatable legal point, though a number of American experts said that Mr. Zarif had a plausible case. The agreement has a mechanism in place to resolve both small and large disputes, which Mr. Zarif suggested Iran was about to become the first to invoke.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “U.S. Military Chief: Tehran Has Complied With Iran Deal” by Paul D. Shinkman for U.S. News here.

Tweet - @Cirincione: Excellent analysis by @wrightr of the winds of war blowing through Administration

More diplomacy, not more sanctions - “While Javad Zarif was ostensibly in town to address a UN meeting on sustainable development, he made clear during a 90-minute session Tuesday with US journalists and analysts, including this author, that his main purpose was to explain Iran’s concerns about the fate of the landmark nuclear deal he negotiated with the US and other major powers two years ago,” writes Barbara Slavin for Atlantic Council’s IranInsight blog. “Some members and associates of the Trump administration seem to be trying to goad Iran into walking away from the JCPOA. Their rhetoric encourages hardline factions in Iran that have also harshly criticized the deal.”

--“Zarif indicated that Iran retained the option of leaving but said that US actions so far did not constitute significant non-compliance and ‘I don’t think we’re there yet.’ He said the Trump administration appears to have ‘come to the realization that scrapping the deal would not be globally welcome.’ With all the other crises the US faces – both foreign and domestic – it would be the height of folly to try to blow up a non-proliferation agreement that is working. Iran is no angel, but the JCPOA shows that diplomacy can accomplish better results than war.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: The #IranDeal keeps Iran’s finger off the #nuclear trigger. Scrapping the deal is both irresponsible and dangerous.

See also - An interview with Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif with Charlie Rose for Bloomberg Politics here.

Senators call for transparent NPR process - “Twenty-two Senate Democrats are calling for a ‘transparent and inclusive’ process in the Trump administration’s ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy,” writes Rebecca Kheel for The Hill. “‘As the world’s foremost nuclear power and the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons in war, the United States has a unique responsibility to reduce the risk of their use,’ the senators wrote Wednesday in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.”

--“In urging for the results to be public, they argued that failing to do so would fuel suspicion about U.S. nuclear intentions, ‘undermining strategic stability and U.S. extended deterrence guarantees.’ The senators also urged for the review to uphold the 2010 New START Treaty, which set limits on the number of deployed nuclear warheads and launchers the United States and Russia are allowed. The senators further called for the review to continue efforts to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and continue the moratorium on nuclear tests in place since former President George H.W. Bush’s tenure.” Full article here.

Tweet - @plough_shares: Bravo! 22 senators call for Nuclear [Weapons] Posture Review that reaffirms US commitment to #EliminateNukes Letter:

See also - “Congress Must Preserve the INF Treaty with Russia” by Thomas Graham Jr. for The National Interest here.

Moon aims for 2020 denuclearization - “South Korean President Moon Jae-in is seeking a deal with North Korea in 2020 to bring about the ‘complete denuclearization’ of the isolated nation in return for a peace treaty that would guarantee the survival of Kim Jong Un’s regime,” writes Kanga Kong for Bloomberg Politics. “While the government this week proposed talks with Pyongyang, it’s the first time the new president has provided a timeline for his engagement policy.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “S. Korea, U.S., Japan reaffirm importance of coordination on N. Korea” by Lee Haye-ah for Yonhap News Agency here.

Tweet - @globalzero: South Korea takes important step of seeking dialogue with North Korea w. goal of deescalating military tensions.

Quick Hits

--“Why the U.S. Must Get Rid Of Its Land-Based Nuclear Missiles” by Terrell Jermaine Starr for Foxtrot Alpha here.

--“Why Regime Change in Iran Wouldn’t Work” by Madison Schramm and Ariane M. Tabatabai for Foreign Affairs here.

--“On Iran, Trump is playing with fire” by David Angelman for CNN here.

--“South Korea’s offer of talks with the North is the best option for resolving the nuclear issue” by the South China Morning Post Editorial Board here.

--“With sanctions failing, US must learn to live North Korean nuclear threat” by Ankit Panda for South China Morning Post here.

--“North Korea and the ban treaty: two sides of the same coin” by John Brake for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 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.

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