As expected, President Trump has announced he will pull the U.S. out of the failed Iran nuclear deal, barring a renegotiation of its terms. Predictably, critics on the right and left are ripping Trump's decision. But a new IBD/TIPP Poll suggests Trump will find support for strengthening the deal from the American public.
Trump called the 2015 nuclear pact a "horrible one-sided deal that should never ever have been made." Now Iran has to decide whether to walk away or renegotiate. Their decision will no doubt be influenced by the fact that Trump will now push for a reimposition of tough trade sanctions on Iran.
Despite Trump's announcement, neither new sanctions or a pullout from the deal will go into effect for six months. That gives both Iran and the U.S. time to renegotiate. The U.S. has said it wants to renegotiate. Does Iran?
If so, Americans will support it. According to the IBD/TIPP Poll of 900 U.S. adults taken from April 26 to May 4 and released just this week, most Americans would like to see some changes made to the deal. Only 15% of Americans said "do nothing."
We asked poll respondents what the U.S. should do about the 2015 nuclear agreement between the six major world powers — the U.S., Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China — and Iran. Some 20% wanted Trump to withdraw from the deal. But the biggest response, 53%, was for Trump to "strengthen the agreement."
That latter option, by the way, achieved majority support from both Democrats and Independents. And, while not a majority, more Republicans supported strengthening the agreement (42%) than pulling out entirely (40%).
And, as structured, it's a deal that definitely is in need of strengthening. As originally negotiated by President Obama and then-Secretary of State John Kerry, the Iran accord came up far short of what was needed to curb the mullahs' nuclear ambitions.
Simply put, the original idea behind the 2015 deal was to keep Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon that could be used to dominate the Mideast and intimidate its immediate neighbors, and even Europe.
But the deal as signed has significant weaknesses that can't and shouldn't be ignored.
For instance, as negotiated, limits on Iran's nuclear research expire after just a decade. It will then be able to openly operate its illicit nuclear facilities and ramp up its output of enriched uranium, a necessary first step toward creating a nuclear weapon. Also, the nuclear deal doesn't include limits on its ballistic missile program, or permission for international nuclear inspectors to enter top-secret military installations where intelligence analysts believe nuclear research is already underway.
In short, Obama's deal kicked the can down the road on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Instead of taking just a year or two to build a nuclear weapon, nuclear experts believe the sanctions at most will keep Iran from getting a nuke for 10 years, 15 years tops. That's just not ending the threat; it's merely postponing the day of nuclear reckoning.
Worse, removing the sanctions imposed on Iran gave the rogue fundamentalist regime more than $100 billion to spend on its terrorist-support activities around the world, and on meddling in Syria's internal affairs.
So Iran's threat has only grown, thanks to the Obama-Kerry appeasement deal. And yes, the U.S. State Department and many of our foreign allies still consider that nation to be the world's No. 1 terrorist-supporting nation, so that hasn't changed either.
We've felt all along that the deal was a bad one. As we wrote on July 17, 2017: "Barring a dramatic change in Iran's behavior, Trump should pull out of the six-powers nuclear agreement with Iran, a bad deal that will soon result in a workable nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran's murderous mullahs."
Nothing has changed, except that we have a president with courage enough to do it.
More important, Trump has issued a number of demands on Iran, which are likely to serve as a template for future talks, should they resume. They include:
- "Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others."
- "Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qaida."
- "End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel."
- "Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea."
- "Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis."
- "End its cyberattacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel."
- "Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime's crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens."
- "Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens."
Sure, these might seem tough, but they aren't. They are routine matters that really require little effort on the part of Iran's leaders, other than minding their own business.
The clock is now running on Iran. It has six months to decide whether to remain in conflict with the U.S. and return to its nuclear ambitions, or to embrace a non-nuclear future that will benefit its people immeasurably.
Meanwhile, our European allies need to seriously reassess whether they truly believe a nuclear Iran would be in their interest. Along with the clear threat from Russia, Iran's burgeoning nuclear program and its active support of terrorism remain the biggest security threat that Europe faces.
America has gotten into a terrible habit of drawing "lines in the sand," then erasing them. Three American presidents in a row have vowed to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran's hands. Now, one of those presidents is taking action. He deserves Americans' support.
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