President Trump has made his feelings about the Iran Nuclear deal very clear: He doesn’t like it.
During the campaign, he promised to tear up the deal, which the United States signed and other world powers signed, to curtail the nuclear weapons-related activity of the Iranian regime.
Now, the president has announced that he may decertify the deal. What does that mean?
Decertification is not an abrogation of the deal, but it is not a pass through either. It is a tool that provides Congress with the ability to decide what to do next, whether it is re-imposing sanctions, further defining non-compliance or certifying that Iran is complying.
The reports from international agencies do confirm that Iran is technically in compliance. Other nations around the world say the same and are urging the United States not to abandon a deal that is, in large measure, working.
Even other members of the administration say the deal should not be abandoned.
So what should be done?
The deal is not perfect; it has some serious flaws. According to statements released by the American Jewish Committee, which opposed the agreement, its three main concerns are more valid than ever:
First, the sunset clause that allows Iran to resume all nuclear activity after 10 years is problematic.
Second, Iran’s continued testing of long range ballistic missiles, while technically not in violation of the letter of the agreement, certainly is not conforming to the spirit of the law.
Third, military bases are excluded from the inspection regime.
Iran’s belligerent actions in the last two years – its support of terror around the world and the murderous Assad regime in Syria – demonstrates that the deal emboldened instead of moderated the Tehran regime (as many proponents predicted).
On the flip side, though, there is no question that Iran is further away from a nuclear weapon now than it would have been without a deal.
Most experts agree that the deal was probably the best that could have been achieved, and the alternative was either accepting a nuclear Iran or a massive military campaign to prevent it (which may or may not have been successful).
Even many American politicians (and some military leaders) who voted against the deal two years ago are saying that a continued commitment to it is the best alternative.
The Jewish community was split two years ago as the debate raged, and my sense is nothing has changed. National Jewish organizations are split, too.
The Israeli government, who has always been against the deal, praised the president’s criticism and threats to cancel the deal.
The next few weeks will be pivotal for the future of the deal and, quite possibly, the Middle East. While Iran insists that it is upholding its end of the bargain, it has promised to completely abandon the deal and resume all its nuclear activity should the United States decertify. That would almost certainly lead to dangerous military posturing. Watch this space.
(Matt Goldberg is director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.)