President Donald Trump vowed this week to decertify the international deal that froze Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
“As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump said at the White House Friday. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.”
Trump’s position is at odds with the opinions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, America’s European allies, and even some members of the Trump administration, who contend that Tehran is honoring its end of the deal. Congress now has 60 days to decide whether to reinstate sanctions on Iran, thereby withdrawing America from the deal entirely.
The deal was initially established under a UN Security Council resolution in 2015 and signed by Iran, the US, UK, China, Russia, and the EU. It eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for a temporary end to Iranian nuclear weapons development.
Since it wasn’t a treaty, the Iran Deal didn’t actually require Congressional approval or ratification, but it did feature a suite of legislation intended to ensure that Congress would have a voice in the way the new relationship with Iran proceeded. Most Democrats approved of the deal while most Republicans, including Minnesota Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen, opposed it.
On 11 September 2015, Paulsen joined his Republican colleagues in voting against H.R.3461, a resolution to approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal’s official name). The same day, he voted to suspend sanctions relief for Iran. Both resolutions passed the House along mostly party lines. In a statement explaining his vote, Paulsen said:
“The nuclear agreement with Iran falls far short of what is acceptable when measured with the objectives laid out by both Congress and the Administration at the beginning of this process. The laundry list of problems with the deal – no ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections, the lifting of the arms embargo, and continued Iranian enrichment capabilities – have made it impossible for me to support this agreement and is the reason why I voted against it today.
“Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism and a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Because of this, any deal should be verifiable, enforceable, and accountable – principles that this agreement does not include.”
Experts, however, disagreed with Paulsen’s analysis. According to Aaron Stein, an arms control expert with the Royal United Services Institute, said that if Iran did violate the terms of the agreement, “The likelihood of getting caught is near 100 percent.”
Paulsen also claimed erroneously that “nearly four out of every five Americans think that this deal is not the right path for us to take.” In fact, polls at the time showed that a bare majority (56 percent) of Americans disapproved of the deal. Today, the exact opposite is true.
Earlier this year, Paulsen reiterated his opposition to the deal, calling it “neither prudent nor transparent” in a speech on the House floor.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that America will pay a “high cost” if the U.S. withdraws from the deal. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini emphasized that the deal will remain in effect regardless of whether the U.S. withdraws.
Featured image via YouTube.