Washington, D.C. — May 8, 2018 — President Trump announced today that he will not waive sanctions on Iran ahead of a May 12 deadline to waive sanctions that were lifted under the Iran nuclear agreement. Failing to waive sanctions on or before May 12 will amount to a material breach of the Iran nuclear agreement on two levels, first by re-imposing sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the agreement, and second, by interfering with Iran’s full realization of sanctions relief.
In response to Trump’s announcement, Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action, lambasted the president. “Trump’s short-sighted, politically motivated abdication of U.S. commitments under the Iran agreement is cause for alarm. Iran has warned that it may withdraw from the agreement if Trump’s actions deprive it of economic benefits it was promised under the deal, so this move could spell doom for the successful nuclear pact, and with it all of the restrictions and checks on Iran’s nuclear program.”
Since taking office, Trump has heard from countless national security and nuclear policy experts that the agreement is working and is in the best interests of the United States. The IAEA, the European Union, over 80 nuclear policy experts, the State Department, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis have all said Iran is adhering to the terms of the agreement. But Trump’s close relationships with fierce opponents of the Iran agreement and advocates for war with Iran appear to be counteracting the experts. Trump’s new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo supported bombing Iran over negotiations. Trump’s new national security advisor John Bolton suggested regime change in Iran could be accomplished by the end of 2018. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday that Trump himself is “committed to regime change” in Iran.
As Rainwater put it, “Ignoring facts and expert opinions has never been a challenge for this president, so we shouldn’t be surprised that he’s done it again, even in the face of a global campaign to encourage him to stand by the deal. What’s particularly terrifying is that beyond inviting the collapse of the historic Iran agreement and all the benefits it provides, Trump has surrounded himself with advocates for regime change in Iran. Playing to his base and spiting his predecessor may be the key motivations for Trump, but his new war cabinet is likely more focused on provoking a response from Iran that it could use as a pretext for war.”
Speaking to Congress’ role in responding to Trump’s decision, Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs, argued that “lawmakers should oppose this reckless crisis of choice with Iran, waive the sanctions themselves and show that America keeps it word. Recent polling shows that a majority of Americans support the Iran agreement, as they understand it makes the U.S. safer and cheating on agreements will make it more difficult to negotiate with other countries including the critical negotiations with North Korea.”
Addressing the longer-term threat of war with Iran, Martin urged Congress to reassert its war powers. “Whatever Trump’s war cabinet may be planning for Iran—and they may well be planning forcible regime change—Trump cannot launch a war against Iran without congressional approval. Given Trump’s abuse of his war powers in Syria, Yemen and perhaps elsewhere, Congress needs to remind him of that.”
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org.