Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak urged US President Donald Trump not to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal, arguing that such a move would not be accepted by the international community, would ultimately empower the Islamic Republic, and would derail any negotiation efforts with North Korea over its atomic program.
Since Trump last certified Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal in July, he has strongly indicated that he won’t do the same on the October 15 deadline.
“Even if America decides to pull out of [the deal] no one will join — not the Chinese, not the Russians, not even the Europeans, Barak told the New York Times in an interview Wednesday, “It will serve the Iranians.”
Last week, the Washington Post broke news of the administration’s plans to refuse to certify that Iran is abiding by the accord, as it is required to do under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a deal struck between Obama and Congress in 2015 that mandates the White House report to Congress every 90 days on whether the Islamic Republic is honoring its commitments.
Barak, who also served as defense minister and from 2007 to 2013 and during that time reportedly pushed for an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, asserted that Iran was so far complying with the terms of the agreement, and argued that decertifying the deal would provide the Islamic Republic with an incentive to push toward nuclear “breakout” capability.
North Korea, Barak continued, would take note of the broken deal and be much less inclined to enter negotiations over its nuclear program. “[North Korea] will say it makes no sense negotiating with the Americans if they can pull out of a deal that has been signed, unilaterally, after a relatively short time,” the former Israeli leader said.
Barak said such a scenario would, in turn, likely drive Japan and South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons of their own, while in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey would seek to do the same in order to deal with the Iranian threat.
“Think what happens in the next generation if Iran turns nuclear,” Barak said. “It’s become almost inevitable that we are entering a totally different international landscape.”
“Kim Jong-un is extreme,” Barak continued. “But he is totally predictable and almost transparent — simple to understand. He just doesn’t want to experience what happened to Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein. Basically, there is no way he will give up his nuclear intentions.”
While a decertification of the Iran deal would not actually abrogate the accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it would force Congress to undertake a 60-day review period to decide whether to reimpose sanctions that were in place before the nuclear deal was implemented.
Many analysts, however, have argued that decertification would signal Trump’s intention to ultimately back out of the deal, as he repeatedly said he would as a presidential candidate.
Others have also criticized what that action would mean for American credibility, when International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and top US officials have all said Iran is not violating the terms of the deal.
Just last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, said that “Iran is not in material breach of the agreement,” and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iran was in “technical compliance” of the deal.
“Like many Israelis I think the Iran deal is a bad deal, but it is a done deal,” Barak said in the interview.
“No one personally remembers the Cuban crisis or the Berlin crisis,” he said. “People at the leadership level don’t have the fingertip feel for how easily the world situation can cascade,” Barak concluded.