Former Israeli Ambassador Michael B. Oren says Trump should junk the Iran nuclear deal

Historians in the News
tags: Trump, Michael B Oren, Iran Nuclear Deal



Michael B. Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for diplomacy, was the Israeli ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2013. Thumbnail Image -  By Anne Mandlebaum - Own work, CC BY 3.0

Jerusalem — “The only alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is war.” That is what the Obama administration and proponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran claimed in 2015. Nobody in the Middle East believed that the United States would ever strike Iran, but enough Americans did that the deal went through.

President Trump has long opposed the deal, calling it one of the “worst and most one-sided transactions” ever. On Oct. 15, the president faces a deadline to recertify or decertify the agreement; various reports say he will opt for the latter. The deal’s defenders, horrified by this prospect, are once again warning of catastrophe. “Hard to see how abandoning” the Iran deal “doesn’t lead to war,” tweeted Samantha Power, a former ambassador to the United Nations.

Such scare tactics were dishonest enough in 2015. Today, in view of the agreement’s ruinous consequences, they are morally indefensible.

The alternative was never war, but a better deal. Rather than lifting sanctions on Iran, allowing it to retain its nuclear infrastructure and develop more advanced centrifuges, a better deal could have ramped up pressure on the Islamic Republic. This would have stripped Iran of capacities like uranium enrichment, which is unnecessary for a civilian energy program, and linked any deal to changes in Iran’s support for terrorism, its regional aggression and its gross violation of human rights at home.

A better deal also would not have removed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in 2025. That “sunset clause” is overlooked by the agreement’s proponents, who stress that Iran has so far complied with the deal. But why wouldn’t Iran comply right now? In a mere eight years it can reactivate its nuclear plants and rapidly enrich enough uranium for dozens of nuclear bombs. Instead of blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons, the agreement paves it. ...




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