Brennan is far from the only political figure to condemn the president’s action. In a joint statement, the leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany expressed “regret and concern,” acknowledging they wish to sustain the agreement, which provided Iran some relief from international sanctions in exchange for limits on and guarantees of transparency about its nuclear aspirations.
European leaders had earlier tried––and failed––to convince the president to preserve the nuclear deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron met with President Trump last month and urged Congress to not only stay in the deal, but seek to improve it. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in separate meetings with the president, also urged him to keep the deal, agreeing with the assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the deal limits Iran’s nuclear capabilities for now and that Iran has always complied.
Proponents of exiting the agreement have cited weaknesses that the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain themselves have acknowledged and pledged to improve. These include:
- eliminating expiration dates on vital restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity, allowing Iran to resume large-scale processing of nuclear fuel starting in 2025
- allowing inspections of military sites, which Iran currently prohibits
- limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program
- addressing Iran’s support for terrorist groups across the Middle East
But Trump’s decision, writes CNN’s Stephen Collinson, “opened a new window into Trump’s political soul, showing his willingness to unleash the kind of chaos abroad he has fomented at home”:
The decision added context to his “America First” foreign policy doctrine and showed he is adamant about following through on campaign promises that horrified America’s allies.
And it revealed two other pillars of the Trump presidency––a propensity to turn even the most crucial moments into a global televised drama, and his ravenous desire to eradicate President Barack Obama from the history books.
Speaking on the air yesterday, Marie Harf, a political commentator for Fox News who worked as the Senior Advisor of Strategic Communications to former Secretary of State John Kerry and led the Iran nuclear negotiations communications strategy, criticized the president’s move, observing that “saying it [that the United States will exit the deal] doesn’t just make it so.”
Harf noted, in particular, that the president only condemned the deal, and never offered a course of action going forward:
I thought what was interesting was that Donald Trump said a lot about what he didn’t like in the deal. He said a lot about how bad Iran’s behavior is, and he said very little about what comes next, and how he will actually work to fix the deal, whether he has a comprehensive plan in place, and he almost made an implicit military threat when he said, ‘If Iran moves in a direction we don’t want them to, they will face a problem like they’ve never seen before.’
So for a lot of us, the question facing the president today wasn’t whether or not we should have done the deal originally. We know how he feels about that. It’s what the best course is moving forward, and if tomorrow Iran kicks out the inspectors, if they restart their enrichment because now we have made the deal null and void, what will Donald Trump do? We did not hear details about how he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon going forward, and I think it’s incumbent upon him and his administration now to lay out their case for how they will do that.
Marie Harf: “If tomorrow Iran kicks out the inspectors, if they restart their enrichment because now we have made the deal null and void, what will @realDonaldTrump do?” #DailyBriefing pic.twitter.com/vSbdwYDctr
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 8, 2018