WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio has “serious doubts” whether the Iran deal can be refashioned and said Friday it should be killed outright.
President Donald Trump said Friday he would withdraw certification of the deal but keep it in place, effectively asking Congress to come up with new provisions.
“President Trump made the right decision to decertify the Obama Administration’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran (JCPOA). He is correct in finding that this deal is not in our national interest,” Rubio, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a statement.
“I know the White House has been working hard to craft a new law to fix the Iran deal, and I appreciate them and Chairman Corker seeking my input. I will reserve judgment until actual legislation is presented. But I have serious doubts about whether it is even possible to fix such a dangerously flawed agreement.
“Ultimately, leaving the nuclear deal, reimposing suspended sanctions, and having the president impose additional sanctions would serve our national interest better than a decertified deal that leaves sanctions suspended or a new law that leaves major flaws in that agreement in place.”
Democrats blasted the move. Florida Rep. Lois Frankel, who voted against the Iran deal in 2015, said Trump’s actions Friday were “reckless.”
In 2015, I opposed the Iran nuclear agreement because I felt it would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program after 15 years and give Iran access to billions of dollars without a commitment to cease its terrorist activity. These concerns remain. Moreover, since the adoption of the agreement, Iran has increased its destabilizing activities in the region, including ballistic missile testing, sponsorship of terrorism, propping up the Assad regime in Syria, and arming Hezbollah.
With that said, Iran has already received billions of dollars in previously frozen assets as a result of the JCPOA and there is no credible evidence that it is in violation of its requirements. The International Atomic Energy Agency has continuously confirmed Iranian technical compliance with the agreement. Our European allies agree. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned that if the U.S. were to pull out of the deal, it would give Tehran a pretext to resume its race to a nuclear capability. The President’s own national security team has urged him not to withdraw.
Donald Trump is wrong to believe that we have leverage to bring the parties back to the table to negotiate a better deal. Instead, by turning our backs on a multilateral agreement, we send a chilling message about the United States’ willingness to honor its commitments, throwing into question our reliability. We can’t afford such a dangerous gamble, especially when tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea are at an all-time high. Today’s action undermines the possibility, however unlikely, for a diplomatic approach to this ongoing crisis.
Mr. Trump’s reckless decision leaves Congress to decide whether the U.S. will reimpose JCPOA-related sanctions on Iran. If Congress were to take such action, the deal would likely collapse. Iran would walk away with the upper hand, leaving them an unobstructed path to race toward nuclear weapons. The consequences for peace and security in the Middle East would be catastrophic, and would put our greatest ally Israel at grave risk. We would lose the mantle of leadership in the international community.
--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times