Opinon: President Trump must uphold America’s commitment to the Iran Nuclear Deal
If the U.S. is truly committed to the security of the American people, and making the world a safer place through nuclear nonproliferation, we must demonstrate our commitment to peace and diplomacy to Iran and to the rest of the world.
The history of the United States relationship with Iran is rooted in, and defined by, a decades-long policy of regime change, which began with the CIA-led overthrow of democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953 in order to keep U.S.-backed Mohammad Reza Shah in power. This ultimately sparked the 1979 Islamic Revolution which grew from strong opposition to years of U.S. interventionist policies in Iran and throughout the region. As Iran’s new anti-U.S. government took power, our threats of intervention grew and Iran started its nuclear program as a direct response to defend against the possibility of another U.S.-led intervention and regime change plot.
Despite this entrenched history of conflict, our countries reached a multilateral diplomatic agreement to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. That agreement is not based on trust, but on verification, and it would not have been possible without the support of our international partners and objective compliance experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
President Trump is threatening to break the commitments we have made to Iran and our allies by decertifying Iran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement, claiming they are not complying with the deal. Before taking such an action with serious and far-reaching consequences, the president must provide credible evidence to Congress from IAEA inspectors that Iran is willfully violating their end of the bargain. To date, neither the IAEA nor our own military and intelligence sources have been provided with any evidence to reach such a conclusion. In fact, they unanimously agree that Iran has stayed faithful to the agreement.
The Iran deal is far from perfect, and it falls far short of reconciling the enormous differences and innumerable grievances between the United States and Iran, but the Iran nuclear deal was about preventing Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon and preventing an all-out war with Iran - which is exactly what it has done. A common misconception is that upholding the deal will somehow prevent us from confronting Iran on other non-nuclear issues such as development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. This is not true. Despite its flaws, the Iran nuclear deal set a high water mark for diplomacy with a nation we otherwise do not have diplomatic ties with. We must continue to address these issues with Iran, outside of the construct of the nuclear deal. In our mission of nuclear non-proliferation, the agreement proves that diplomacy is our best option if we want to avoid yet another costly, destructive war.
The consequence of breaking our agreement and backing out of the deal, will likely cause Iran to restart its nuclear weapons program, and will spark a nuclear arms race across the region, beginning with countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, escalating the Shia-Sunni conflict to extremely dangerous levels.
In addition, our ability to successfully negotiate with countries like North Korea to ultimately denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, depends on our ability to abide by the agreement we promised to uphold with Iran. North Korea has already made it clear that the reason they are arming themselves with nuclear weapons is to deter the U.S. from toppling the North Korean regime. Walking away from the Iran nuclear agreement sends an unequivocal message to North Korea that there is no use pursuing any diplomatic negotiations with the U.S. because our country cannot be trusted to hold up its end of an agreement. This will greatly increase the chances of a nuclear war between North Korea and the United States, a conflict which could lead to the destruction of our beautiful state of Hawaii and its people, as well as the mainland United States. It will drastically increase nuclear proliferation around the world, catastrophic war, suffering, devastation, and loss of life worldwide.
Pulling out of this agreement now will achieve nothing for the U.S. and it is highly unlikely any other country would join us in imposing serious new sanctions against Iran. Hundreds of millions of dollars of Iranian assets have already been returned to their country. Rejecting this agreement will not get those funds that back or be able to reseal Iranian markets from foreign investment. Pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement now has no upside, and tremendous downside. In short, there’s everything to lose and very little, if anything, to gain.
If President Trump follows through on his threat of walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, without providing any evidence that Iran has not complied, then Congress must act to ensure that as long as Iran is complying with the terms of the agreement, the Iran nuclear deal must be upheld.
Gabbard represents Hawaii's 2nd District and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee.
Originally published in The Hill on October 12, 2017.