A bipartisan array of former top national security officials urged US President Donald Trump to stick to the Iran nuclear deal, saying that war with Iran is “more imaginable” today than it has been in five years.
The statement was published Tuesday on the website of the magazine of The National Interest, a conservative think tank. It was responding to reports that Trump may refuse to certify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which trades sanctions relief for a rollback of Iran’s nuclear program, when the next assessment period comes around in October.
“The international agreement with Iran continues to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. No American national security objective would be served by withdrawing from it as long as Iran is meeting the agreement’s requirements,” read the statement. Signed by nearly 50 men and women who were either former senior officials of the US government or prominent national security leaders who have not held senior government positions.
“To the contrary,” the letter continues, “given continuing assurance by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is in compliance with the agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), such a unilateral act would have grave long-term political and security consequences for the United States.”
The signers recommend a “comprehensive policy toward Iran that furthers US national security interests,” including: American leadership in the JCPOA; a follow-up agreement that would extend terms of the deal farther into the future; and an additional consultative body on major disputes in the area.
The letter also suggests establishing a regular channel of communication at a senior level between the US and Iran, and regular consultations among US allies and partners in the region to share information and coordinate strategies.
They warn that a US rejection of the JCPOA could push Iran to return to its pre-agreement nuclear enrichment program under far weaker international monitoring.
Trump last month recertified Iran’s adherence to the 2015 deal brokered by President Barack Obama. But he did so reluctantly, at the urging of his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster; his defense secretary, James Mattis; and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. They argued that decertification would alienate US allies because Iran is indeed complying with the deal’s strictures.
However, within days of giving the go-ahead to recertify, Trump reportedly tasked a separate team, led by his top strategic adviser, Stephen Bannon, to come up with a reason to decertify Iran at the next 90-day assessment in October.
The signers include: Morton Abramowitz, former assistant secretary of state for Intelligence and Research; Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary for nonproliferation and secretary of state’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control; Morton Halperin, former director of policy planning at the State Department; Daniel Kurtzer, former ambassador to both Israel and Egypt; Carl Levin, former US senator and chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services; and Barnett Rubin, former senior adviser to the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.