By law, the president is required to notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is living up to the nuclear arms agreement. He just did so…reluctantly.
At an hourlong meeting last Wednesday, all of the president’s major security advisers recommended he preserve the Iran deal for now. Among those who spoke out were Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to an official who described internal discussions on the condition of anonymity. The official said Mr. Trump had spent 55 minutes of the meeting telling them he did not want to.
It’s clear that Iran is living up to their part of the agreement. Trump’s issue is that he doesn’t want the abide by it.
The Trump administration’s continued deep ambivalence about the deal suggests that it may eventually seek to find a way to break the deal without getting blamed. Senior officials stressed that President Donald Trump is determined that his administration’s broader policy toward Iran not be held hostage by the nuclear deal negotiated by his predecessor, Obama, even if he is not ready to walk away from it just yet.
This attitude of Trump’s is pushing things in a very dangerous direction. If he takes action to undermine the deal, he puts the United States in a position of being less trustworthy than Iran when it comes to international agreements, and that’s a pretty low bar.
So according to one administration official, this is the back-up plan:
A third senior administration official said the Trump administration intends to work with European allies to try to “build the case for serious flaws of the agreement, while also looking for ways to more strictly enforce the deal.”
The president wants to work with the same European allies that he so thoroughly rebuffed during his disastrous NATO speech to get them on board with his plans to heighten tensions with Iran. I’d venture a guess that he is too ignorant and insulated to even begin to grasp how ridiculous that is.
There are a couple of global hot spots that an unleashed Trump could very well blow up in a fit of rage. Trashing this agreement with Iran is one of them. The other is, of course, North Korea.
The group of people in the room who were subjected to the president’s 55-minute temper tantrum about Iran make up a pretty good portion of the folks that would be required to trigger an Article 25 declaration. Let’s hope they’d be prepared to do so if Trump decides to act on his own impulses about this.