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The skepticism is widespread over leaving the Iran deal

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By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of  Daily News or dearjulius.com.

President Trump may have intended to garner praise for his decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but there is a distinct lack of support for exiting the Iran deal, especially when there is no obvious plan to get to the desired “better deal” now that international sanctions have been lifted and the United States is not standing shoulder-to-shoulder with allies.

Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement, restrained in tone but emphatic in their disagreement with Trump.

“Together, we emphasize our continuing commitment to the JCPoA. This agreement remains important for our shared security. We recall that the JCPoA was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in resolution 2231. This resolution remains the binding international legal framework for the resolution of the dispute about the Iranian nuclear program.”

Translation: The United States is an international scofflaw, but they are not. They urged Trump not to sanction their companies that are doing business in Iran while these countries adhere to the deal. (“We urge the U.S. to ensure that the structures of the JCPOA (deal) can remain intact and to avoid taking action which obstructs its full implementation by all other parties to the deal.”) If Iran meant to sow discord between the United States and its allies, it succeeded beyond its wildest imagination. Our European allies are now issuing assurances — to Iran. (“Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case, including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement.”)

American criticism was robust as well.

Conservative foreign policy scholar Kori Schake, deputy director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, observes, “I don’t see how this tightens the noose on Iran’s nuclear program or its other dangerous behavior.” To the contrary, she says, “It’ll make it harder for us to get the international cooperation we need. President Trump looks to have narrowed his options to either destroying Iran’s nuclear program or threatening our closest friends and allies with secondary sanctions that’ll start a trade war and accelerate the demise of the dollar as the international holding currency.”

Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who all opposed the JCPOA, spoke out against Trump’s move. Cardin wrote, “I voted against the Iran nuclear deal three years ago because I felt it left certain long-term questions about Iran’s enrichment capabilities unanswered. Since it was entered into, however, I have worked to ensure there is rigorous enforcement and oversight of the deal. Three years in, Iran is complying with its end of the nuclear bargain, according to international observers and American intelligence officials.” Nevertheless, he warned:

President Trump has breathed air into Tehran’s inevitable argument to the international community: We kept our end of the deal, but America is not good for its word and cannot be trusted. It is in fact America who has violated its obligations under the deal.

That is a deeply unfortunate and frankly dangerously embarrassing prospect, because Iran is one of the most nefarious actors on the world stage, playing a destabilizing role across the Middle East and proudly carrying the mantle of the greatest nation-state threat to Israel today. . . .

In 2015, as President Obama was nearing conclusion of the JCPOA negotiations, I worked with Senator Bob Corker in our capacities as the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to write the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. That bill asserted Congress’ right to review any agreements reached as part of the effort to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. INARA passed each chamber of Congress with near unanimous support and brought greater accountability and understanding to the American people about the nuclear deal and why it was in our interests.

Donald Trump then became president and sought to make good on his campaign promise to tear up the deal. For months throughout 2017, I worked with then-White House National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster, to brainstorm possible changes to [Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act] that would not violate two of my principles: no changes that would have the U.S. violate its JCPOA obligations, and no changes without European concurrence.

He might have added that, as has been widely reported, the United States and our allies reached agreement on all issues except the sunset clause. And yet Trump, who had always wanted to scuttle the deal, chose to exit and set in motion reinstitution of sanctions. Cardin notes that “just because he can leave the agreement does not mean he should. Mr. Trump has failed to make a convincing case for U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and in the process, may very well have strengthened Iran.”

As for the voters, they are highly skeptical of Trump’s strategy (if there is one) on backing out of the deal. Reuters reports that “29 percent of adults wanted to end the deal with Iran and five other world powers to ease sanctions and limit Iran’s nuclear program. Another 42 percent said the United States should remain in the deal, and the remaining 28 percent said they ‘don’t know.'” In contrast to most issues, Republicans aren’t cheering the move. “Even among those who are registered as Republicans, less than half — 44 percent — advocated ending the U.S. involvement in the deal. Another 28 percent wanted to remain, and the remaining 28 percent said they did not know.” With GOP support for Trump running above 80 percent, that is practically a mutiny.

The predictions and current polls will prove of little value if Trump pulls a rabbit out of the hat, forcing Iran into a much tougher deal. We find that highly unlikely. For now, this is looking like another cheesy stunt gone bad.

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