Former US president Barack Obama made a rare public criticism of his successor Tuesday, describing Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal as “misguided” and a “serious mistake.”
Former secretary of state John Kerry said the decision “puts Israel at greater risk.”
“The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working,” Obama said in a statement, referring to the deal his administration brokered in 2015 by its acronym. “That is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current US secretary of defense.”
“That is why today’s announcement is so misguided,” he added. “I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake.”
Obama also warned: “The consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.”
Last June, Trump withdrew the US from another landmark deal brokered by the Obama administration, the 2015 Paris Agreement, which dealt with climate change mitigation.
Obama said that without the nuclear deal, the US “could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.”
He said the deal remains a model for what diplomacy can accomplish, including when it comes to North Korea.
There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons,…
John Kerry, who was Obama’s secretary of state and a main architect of the pact, also slammed Trump’s announcement, saying it was contrary to US interests.
“Today’s announcement weakens our security, breaks America’s word, isolates us from our European allies, puts Israel at greater risk, empowers Iran’s hardliners, and reduces our global leverage to address Tehran’s misbehavior, while damaging the ability of future Administrations to make international agreements,” Kerry said in a statement.
“Instead of building on unprecedented nonproliferation verification measures, this decision risks throwing them away and dragging the world back to the brink we faced a few years ago,” he added. “America should never have to outsource those stakes to any other country. This is not in America’s interests. We should all hope the world can preserve the nuclear agreement.”
Trump announced the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, following through on a campaign promise and defying European allies who implored him to maintain an agreement that international agencies have said Tehran is honoring.
In a highly anticipated address from the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump cast the landmark agreement forged under predecessor Barack Obama as ‘defective’ and unable to rein in Iranian behavior or halt the Islamic Republic’s quest to develop a nuclear program.
“I’m announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” he said while adding that his administration “will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”
Trump said the 2015 agreement, which included Germany, France, and Britain, was a “horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made.”
His remarks came ahead of his self-imposed May 12 deadline to walk away from the deal, which is when the president is required to renew waivers on sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program as required under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is formally called.
Trump emphasized that sanctions would also apply to other nations that did business with Iran, meaning that the United States could very well apply sanctions on its closest European allies. “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail,” Trump said.
However, officials said European companies would have several months to pull out of the Iranian market.
Trump said that his explosive move would signal “the United States no longer makes empty threats” on the world stage. “When I make promises, I keep them,” he said.
In January, Trump waived sanctions for the third time in his presidency, but said he wouldn’t take that action again unless Congress and European allies amended the pact.
Since then, international negotiators have unsuccessfully sought to make changes to the deal — and Tehran has refused to accept any alterations to its terms.
The Iran agreement, struck in 2015 by the United States, other world powers, and Iran, lifted most US and international sanctions against the country. In return, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program making it impossible to produce a bomb, along with rigorous inspections.
Over the last several weeks, leaders from France, Britain, and Germany have all lobbied the president not to abscond from the accord, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu campaigned assiduously to discredit the deal.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.