Trump Announces U.S. Withdrawal From The Iran Nuclear Deal

As expected, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran. There was no rational basis for doing so.

As expected, President Trump has announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the agreement negotiated in 2015 to place limits on Iran’s nuclear research program, to place limits on that program, and to subject Iran to international inspection of its nuclear sites for the first time ever:

WASHINGTON — President Trump declared on Tuesday that he was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, unraveling the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama, and isolating the United States among its Western allies.

“This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” Mr. Trump said at the White House in announcing his decision. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”

Mr. Trump’s announcement, while long anticipated and widely telegraphed, plunges America’s relations with European allies into deep uncertainty. They have committed to staying in the deal, raising the prospect of a diplomatic and economic clash as the United States reimposes stringent sanctions on Iran.

It also raises the prospect of increasing tensions with Russia and China, which also are parties to the agreement.

In a joint statement, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany urged Iran to “continue to meet its own obligations under the deal,” despite the American withdrawal.

“We encourage Iran to show restraint in response to the decision by the U.S.,” the statement said. Separately, in a post on Twitter, Mr. Macron said the European allies “regret” Mr. Trump’s decision, adding, “The international regime against nuclear proliferation is at stake.”

One person familiar with negotiations to keep the accord in place said the talks collapsed over Mr. Trump’s insistence that sharp limits be kept on Iran’s nuclear fuel production after 2030. The deal currently lifts those limits.

As a result, the United States is now preparing to reinstate all sanctions it had waived as part of the nuclear accord — and impose additional economic penalties as well, according to another person briefed on Mr. Trump’s decision.

The withdrawal fulfills one of Mr. Trump’s oft-repeated campaign promises, and came despite intense personal lobbying by European leaders and frantic attempts to craft fixes to the deal that would satisfy him. In part, Mr. Trump was driven by the conviction that taking a tough line with Iran would help an upcoming negotiation with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, whom he plans to meet in the next several weeks.

Here’s the video of the speech:

None of this is a surprise, of course, since President Trump has made his animosity for the JCPOA clear from the start of his campaign nearly three years ago. Over the seventeen months that comprised the Primary and General Elections, for example, the President repeatedly bashed the agreement, misrepresented what it actually entailed, and claimed that he could have negotiated a better deal without specifically saying what he would have done differently. Throughout the campaign, though, he used the disdain for the agreement that was evident in the Republican base to boost his campaign and to repeatedly attack President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even some fellow Republicans who were supporting the agreement.While Congress was considering the agreement in the late summer of 2015, Trump co-hosted a rally in Washington with fellow Republican candidate for President Ted Cruz that sought to rally support against the agreement.  That effort failed, but it cemented Trump as the principal anti-JCPOA candidate in the race.

After his inauguration, President Trump continued to attack the agreement but initially held off pulling the trigger on a walk away. Last year at this time, for example, Trump decided to lift another set of sanctions pursuant to the requirements of the JCPOA. Later in the year, Trump again stopped short of withdrawing from the agreement but at the same time declined to certify to Congress that Iran was in compliance with the agreement, which many observers saw as the first step in a process that would lead to a full repudiation of the agreement. This decision to decertify compliance came despite the fact that Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson both said on the record that Iran was complying with its obligations and that staying in the agreement was in the national interests of the United States. He also took this step despite the fact that the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is charged with monitoring Iran’s compliance with the agreement, has said each time it has been required to report on the status of the agreement that Iran is living up to its obligations under the agreement. With that step taken, today’s decision seemed to most observers to be inevitable.

Between October and now, America’s closest European allies have both closed ranks in support of the agreement and sought to find ways to save it and get Trump to stop short of completely repudiating the agreement. At the start of the year, the leaders of the United Kingdom, France, and Germany issued a statement of support for the JCPOA. made clear that they did not support the position taken by the Trump Administration and continued to rebuff American efforts to renegotiate the deal even while attempting to negotiate some sort of side agreement that would placate the United States while keeping the core of the JCPOA intact. Outside of this group, both Russia and China have made it clear that they would not support unilateral action on the part of the United States and Iran has made clear that American withdrawal from the agreement could lead to their own withdrawal and would likely increase tensions in the Middle East.

Most recently, French President Emmanual Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both came to the United States for the express purpose of trying to convince Trump to keep the United States in the deal. Additionally, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has said he agrees with some of Trump’s criticisms of the JCPOA, wrote an Op-Ed in The New York Times arguing that the United States should stay in the agreement. Those arguments likely fell on deaf ears, though, a fact seemingly acknowledged by President Macron at the end of his visit last month when he said that Trump was likely to pull out of the deal for “domestic reasons.” In the meantime, Macron and Merkel, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May continued to work behind the scenes to try to find a way to save the JCPOA, but those efforts were clerly in vain.

Nothing in Trump’s speech presented any evidence at all that Iran is not in compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA nor did it provide any viable alternative to the JCPOA. This is a stupid, unnecessary, and potentially disastrous decision on his part. Indeed, much as he did in October when he decertified Iranian compliance, most of what the President cited in his speech dealt with matters totally outside the scope of the agreement. This includes issues related to Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is the subject of a completely different set of international sanctions, Iran’s actions in Yemen and Syria, and terrorist attacks that took place as long ago as 1979. While these are important issues, they are completely outside the scope of the JCPOA and were never in contemplation of the parties when the agreement was negotiated. By deciding to pull out of the deal without presenting any evidence to justify it, Trump has ceded all of the leverage going forward to Iran. Additionally, he has potentially thrown into the trash heal an agreement that imposed an international inspection regime that would last until at least 2040. Finally, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and all American intelligence agencies have said repeatedly that the Iranians are in compliance with the JCPOA.Trump ignored them in favor of fulfilling a misguided campaign promise. Only time will tell what the consequences of all this will be.

Daniel Larison touched on that question in a piece written before Trump’s announcement:

Iranian hard-liners will be pleased by Trump’s decision, since it lets them claim vindication and accuse their domestic opponents of making the mistake of trusting the U.S. Hard-liners in the U.S. and Iran feed off of each other, and when they are in the ascendant in one country it boosts hard-liners in the other. Armed conflict between U.S. forces and Iran and its proxies is going to become more likely as a result of this decision, and that could escalate into a larger war faster than anyone expects. Once the U.S. is out of the deal, it won’t be long before we hear the usual drumbeat for military action against Iran.

Reneging on the nuclear deal doesn’t serve any American interests and does significant harm to several of them. Other states will be less willing to trust the U.S. to honor its obligations. That will raise the costs of every negotiation the U.S. conducts with other governments during the current administration. Every government that cooperated with the U.S. to secure the deal will remember how Trump simply threw away a major diplomatic achievement for the sake of spite and ideology, and they will be less inclined to cooperate with Washington the next time their help is needed.

Withdrawing from the JCPOA is a huge unforced error and self-inflicted wound whose full costs we won’t realize until later, and it represents a serious setback to the cause of nonproliferation. Trump is walking away from a deal that got the U.S. almost everything it wanted at virtually no cost, and he is doing it mainly because it allows him to repudiate his predecessor’s work. It is a perfect example of putting petty self-interest and pique ahead of the interests of the United States, and it has absolutely nothing to do with putting America first.

As did Cato analyst Emma Ashford:

[B]y blowing up the nuclear deal today without offering any clear strategy or plan for an alternative, Donald Trump is opening Pandora’s Box, increasing the risks of escalation and bringing us gradually closer to conflict with Iran.

Initially, it probably won’t look that bad. The President’s decision today may not even look like an absolute withdrawal from the deal. Even if he declines to waive sanctions, penalties will not kick in for 180 days, and Trump or his advisors may well suggest that European states can continue to negotiate during this period.

Yet the act of refusing to waive sanctions itself will deter companies from investing in Iran, and there is little chance that Iran will agree to the additional sanctions and restrictions that the Trump administration is now proposing as unilateral amendments to the deal. Otherwise, the Trump administration has given no indication of any diplomatic follow-on steps they will take with regard to Iran’s nuclear program.

Nor has the administration given any indication that they intend to have a broad public discussion on military action against Iran, though it is clear that many members of the administration –  from new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to National Security Advisor John Bolton – favor such an approach. Instead, the steps that Trump has already taken, such as increasing troops in Syria, and his decision to withdraw from the deal generally raise the risk of escalation and conflict with Iran or Iranian proxies throughout the region.

Conflict between the US and Iran may not happen; we could get lucky. But Trump’s choice to withdraw from the JCPOA today – and his choice to move to a more confrontational approach to Iran – raises that risk substantially. If US troops come into conflict with Iranian proxies inside Syria, broader conflict could easily result. Likewise, escalation is possible if US allies like Israel decide to take matters into their own hands and strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Outside of the Middle East, the decision to withdraw from the JCPOA could have serious consequences for American interests around the world.

The most immediate impact could be seen in the ongoing negotiations that are supposed to lead up to a meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as well as future negotiations regarding the issues on the Korean Peninsula, including the North Korean nuclear agreement. Not without some merit, this announcement could lead the North Koreans to conclude that the United States cannot be trusted to live up to the agreements it enters into. Creating this impression will only make an already difficult process toward solving the six-decade-old issues on the Korean Peninsula even more difficult.

Outside of North Korea, this announcement is likely to further erode the relationship and its European allies. The Trump Administration has already helped to erode that relationship thanks to the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and the statements that have been made in the past about NATO that has called America’s commitment to the alliance and its collective defense principles into doubt. Additionally, it’s worth noting that the most immediate impact of the sanctions will fall on European companies, financial institutions, and other entities. This means that the Trump Administration’s action today will end up further poisoning our relationship with those nations, and place those nations in the difficult position of either adhering to American demands vis a vis Iran or staying in an agreement that they clearly believe is in their interest and which they clearly want to preserve. The consequences of that for our future efforts to gain support from the U.K., France, or Germany for their cooperation in other areas seem rather obvious.

Finally, what the President has done here is to destroy in a ten-minute speech a movement toward international unity about the need to put international pressure on Iran because of its nuclear program that has been in the works for the better part of the past decade. Both the George W. Bush and Obama Administration spent considerable diplomatic capital attempting to get not only our European allies but also Russia, China, other nations, and the United Nations on board in support of the idea that a nuclear-armed Iran is something that would dangerous for the entire Middle East and for the world as a whole. Reconstructing that kind of coalition is going to be difficult if not impossible. Meanwhile, he has placed the diplomatic advantage in Iran’s lap. They can choose to react to this by considering the agreement null and void and resume their research program, or they could decide to call the American bluff and continue complying with it in an effort to prevent the Europeans from reimposing their own sanctions. The logical course of action for Iran for now, of course, would be to stay in the JCPOA and thus further isolate the United States.

Whatever the consequences of today’s decision may be, we’re about to find out.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Middle East, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Yank says:

    They can choose to react to this by considering the agreement null and void and resume their research program, or they could decide to call the American bluff and continue complying with it in an effort to prevent the Europeans from reimposing their own sanctions. The logical course of action for Iran for now, of course, would be to stay in the JCPOA and thus further isolate the United States.

    Yup.

    They should stay in the deal and the other countries should honor their commitments and call Trump’s bluff when it comes to the sanctions.




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  2. Kathy says:

    How long before Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE and go figure whom else begin to crank up their own nuclear weapons programs?

    Seriously, you need to get rid of this moron and replace him with someone responsible.




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  3. Scott F. says:

    @Yank:

    If Iran and the other parties to the JCPOA stay compliant, this may serve to isolate Trump and his neocon cheerleaders and not all of the US in a sense that would permanently damage our international credibility.




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  4. teve tory says:

    it’s been a while, so I don’t even know anymore what are the main 2-3 Trumper sites to check, to see how that side is reacting. Can someone help me out here?




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  5. Yank says:

    @Scott F.: I know, but you know President “Deals” should have thought about that before pulling out.




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  6. Hal_10000 says:

    The Trumpists don’t want a deal. They know perfectly well that Iran will not negotiate on a deal knowing we could just upend it on a whim. The goal here is war.




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  7. matt bernius says:

    Additionally, it’s worth noting that the most immediate impact of the sanctions will fall on European companies, financial institutions, and other entities. This means that the Trump Administration’s action today will likely have a

    Doug, it looks like you lost a sentence here. And that’s unfortunate, because this is a major issue with the decision (if the Trump administration goes full bore on the withdrawal and sanctions). Essentially we’re going to not simply impose sanctions on Iran. We’re imposing sanctions on major companies in allied countries (who are abiding by the agreements their countries signed).

    That has pretty major international implications (if things unfold that way). It also seems like something that was under-reported (or at least it had not sunk in for me until earlier today when I heard it being discussed on NPR).




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  8. teve tory says:

    Iran is 4 times the geographical size of Iraq, has twice as many people, and is extremely mountainous.

    If the Trump administration goes to war in Iran we’ll have tens of thousands of US dead, over a million Iranians dead, hundreds of thousands of US troops injured…

    …for nothing.




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  9. drj says:

    In an amazing coincidence, the brown stuff has just hit the fan: Israel attacks Iran in Syria and might even be gearing up for a limited war.

    It’s completely obvious that just tearing up the Iran deal will not satisfy the anti-Iran hawks by itself. The goal, for some at least, is full-blown war and/or regime change. This may be part of an attempt to make that happen, perhaps by provoking Iran to retaliate against Israel.




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  10. de stijl says:

    Doug,

    I’m ignoring this story because the implications are massive and the action you reported was done for no reason other than spite. We live in an idiot country and I want to leave; I don’t want to be here where a bone-head narcissist is the President and can do insanely counter-productive crap because Obama dragged his ass at the Prayer Breakfast 5 years ago about the birth certificate.

    God damn it. It’s really great weather where I live, but this is just the shittiest day ever.




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  11. @matt bernius:

    I had a few weird copy-and-paste errors with this post and it appears the end of this paragraph fell victim to that without my noticing it. I’ve finished the thought and updated the post.




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  12. matt bernius says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Thanks Doug. I agree with what you wrote. The question of sanctioning allies is huge. One would hope that the administration wouldn’t do that (in an environment where there is already concern about trade wars). That said, with this administration who knows (especially since without enforcing sanctions our departure from the agreement is largely symbolic).




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  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Here’s the most important thing:
    Dennison did not once claim that the JCPOA wasn’t working, gave no logical reason for getting out of it, and provided no viable alternative to it.
    Dennison can’t close a deal with a porn-star…but he’s going to single-handedly negotiate a deal that stops Iran from developing nuclear weapons…permanently…AND being a bad actor in the region? Sure he is.
    If your leader is a looney-tune…your country looks like a looney-bin.




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  14. teve tory says:

    Obama’s response:

    Barack Obama
    1 hr ·
    There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.

    The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.

    That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.

    Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.

    First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

    Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.

    Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.

    Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.

    Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.

    Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.

    In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.




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  15. grumpy realist says:

    …and the US wanders its way down to irrelevance. If we try to put sanctions on European companies working with Iran I suspect they’ll just laugh at us.

    Brexit Redux.




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  16. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Go to Lucianne.com, where Trump is God, and the only trusted news sources are The Gateway Pundit, Infowars, Breitbart, DC Whispers, and a couple of other crackpot blogs.




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  17. Kathy says:

    One of my minor interests is commercial aviation. Not long after the deal was struck, there were several aviation blogs posting news of what various Iranian airlines wanted to order from Boeing, Airbus and a few others (Bombardier, ATR, etc.)

    Airliners take quite a bit of time to build, even the little ATR turboprops, thus they take time to deliver. The initial orders reports were more akin to wishlists, too, meaning actual orders would be smaller. But Iran hasn’t been able to purchase new passenger jets in many, many years.

    So I wonder what the actions by the Moron in Chief today will mean for Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, Embraer and ATR (COMAC and Sukhoi might do ok). Orders from other countries are plentiful, so maybe few jobs will be lost. But airliners are expensive, too. Much of the money involved in the deal, be it from selling crude or unfrozen assets, would have wound up in the coffers of airplane manufacturers, and their many, many, many suppliers and subcontractors all over the world.

    Doubleplusgood!




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  18. de stijl says:

    Can anyone explain why this happened? How does it benefit us? What is the upside for us?

    We just showed and then gave away all of our cards for … I don’t even know what to say here, we didn’t even get nothing, we insured a negative response. We gave away all our leverage for less than nothing.




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  19. Steve V says:

    @Hal_10000: That is an insane thought. And depressing.




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  20. teve tory says:

    Gateway Pundit:

    After Trump’s Announcement on Exiting the Iranian Nuke Deal — Here’s a Photo Collection of Obama’s Remaining Legacy…
    May 8, 2018, 4:22 pm by Jim Hoft

    John Kerry Furious After Trump Exits Iran Nuke Deal ‘Dragging the World Back to the Brink’
    May 8, 2018, 3:16 pm by Cristina Laila

    Obama Releases Statement on Junk Iranian Deal – Says It’s Working Despite PROOF That Iran is Cheating
    May 8, 2018, 2:51 pm by Jim Hoft

    ugh…




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  21. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “The international regime against nuclear proliferation is at stake.”

    Nonsense. Trump is just showing the world the virtues of taking a no-nonsense hard line on little pissant, shirthole countries like Iran. It will all work out and America will be greater for it.

    By the way, did anyone catch Kim Jong-eun’s warning that America’s belligerence is threatening the “emerging detente” on the peninsula? Be on the lookout for Kim to suddenly cancel the dialog with Trump. The emerging story will be that “we can’t have peace in Korea because the US won’t allow it.” The next “idea whose time has come.”




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  22. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    The big winner in this…Netanyahoo. He played Dennison like a piano.




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  23. teve tory says:

    @CSK:

    Fuck, here’s Lucianne.com:

    Trump shredding Obama´s failed deal
    is just the beginning of winning in Iran

    The Hill [Washington, DC], by Sebastian Gorka Original Article

    Posted By: Judy W.- 5/8/2018 3:51:09 PM Post Reply

    The fate of Obama´s JCPOA Iran deal was clear when Donald J. Trump became America´s 45th president. The new commander-in-chief? inherently knew that President Obama´s so-called “legacy “deal actually facilitated our enemies in Tehran, as it released more than $140 billion to the mullahs, had no effect on Iranian ballistic missile capability, created a risible inspection regime, and included a sunset clause which meant that nuclear weapons acquisition by Iran was simply delayed, not in fact prevented. And after Prime Minister Netanyahu gave his commanding performance on Iran´s secret AMAD Program that had…

    While we’re at it, what’s with that defective apostrophe? Can they literally not figure out how to work a keyboard?




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  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Hal_10000:..The goal here is war.

    So will you please say hello
    To the folks that I know
    Tell them it won’t be long
    They’ll be happy to know
    That as you saw me go
    I was singin’ this song




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  25. de stijl says:

    Today is too screwed up to contemplate.

    I’m gonna watch the best mall fashion show ever. John Goodman and David Byrne looking on / commenting.

    Dream Operator https://youtu.be/yQ-ZOVJXMes

    This news makes me very unhappy. This video makes me very happy.




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  26. michael reynolds says:

    Avenatti just set off a small nuke of his own. Michael Cohen money-laundering for sanctioned Russian oligarchs from campaign time into Trump’s term.




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  27. @michael reynolds:

    Yea I’m seeing that on Twitter. Waiting on some evidence to back this up before commenting.




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  28. michael reynolds says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I’ve been watching it on MSNBC and to his credit Ari Melber has reminded everyone several times that this is not reported data, it’s data supplied by Avenatti. One of the guests speculated it had the sound of a bank document as the source. Don’t know how to judge that. But if it’s true the Donald is going to have a whole lot of trouble pretending that collusion is off the table. It’s the Thanksgiving turkey.




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  29. de stijl says:

    Today is crap. Screw that.

    This makes me happy. John Goodman as “The Country Bachelor” singing People Like Us gives me unadulterated joy.

    https://youtu.be/t9a1JQi7G3k

    God laughs at people like us.




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  30. de stijl says:

    Today is why we warned people about what Trump could do.




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  31. al-Ameda says:

    Why would our allies support Trump in this play?




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  32. de stijl says:

    There is joy in the world. Here is Pop Staples singing Papa Legba.

    https://youtu.be/u21-p4sTz4w




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  33. Mister Bluster says:

    The Hill

    this is an interesting link:
    .dropbox.com/s/pskgpwr15r48tx5/Executive%20Summary.pdf?dl=0 …




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  34. de stijl says:

    Spaulding Gray describes capitalism with food stuffs. And the concept of “weekends”

    https://youtu.be/gjHwl5SRdCo




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  35. Don says:

    What remains of Obama’s presidency except for the Obamacare scar tissue? When your “legacy” is built on sand, e.g. executive orders and agency edicts, it can be erased with a rising tide. That tide is Donald Trump.




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  36. teve tory says:

    @michael reynolds: (CNN)Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company’s US affiliate made to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, after the election, according to a source familiar with the matter.

    Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of asset manager Renova Group, is an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and last month the Trump administration placed him on a list of sanctioned Russians for activities including election interference. The purpose of the payments, which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear.

    idk if this is related to that.




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  37. de stijl says:

    This is the best of all possible worlds.

    I’m full Candide. All is well. All will be well.

    Crappy days deserve soul. The Four Tops.

    https://youtu.be/YEVCRdTBeYc?list=PLa9ZNle9yIXnGf7l_jwfBnIXIaOFDx-4u

    Bobby Womack. Just Across 110th Street

    https://youtu.be/UOg_8hCC4u4

    Life sucks sometimes, but soul will lift you higher.




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  38. al-Ameda says:

    @Don:

    What remains of Obama’s presidency except for the Obamacare scar tissue? When your “legacy” is built on sand, e.g. executive orders and agency edicts, it can be erased with a rising tide. That tide is Donald Trump.

    Add to that a racial animus (Trump ran a 3 year Birther investigation that questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency) and this is what you get.




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  39. An Interested Party says:

    That tide is Donald Trump.

    Would you like to pay $4-$5 for a gallon of gas? Would you like Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon? Would you like a hot war in the Middle East? Would you like an explosion of terrorism around the world? This tide you seem to be crowing about could end up drowning quite a lot of people…




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  40. Eric Florack says:

    Let’s remember a couple of things. First of all removal with the United States from this bad bad bad bad bad deal, was a campaign promise. One that if not kept, well you know what the reaction of The Usual Suspects in here would be.
    As for the goal being War, well that’s been the Iranians goal all along.

    And if you think really hard about this, you may remember that that was the prediction for the Korean peninsula. How did those predictions work out for you?




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  41. Jen says:

    I do not understand how the Trump loyalists on this board do not seem to understand that it is precisely the WITHDRAWAL of the US from this deal that is what the *hard line* Iranians wanted.

    You chumps played right into the hands of hard-line Iranians. Literally the dumbest move ever.

    This is probably the worst foreign policy mess that Trump has made during his very short term. It’s an enormous blunder that doesn’t bode well for the North Korea talks either.

    Trump is the very worst strategic “thinker” in leadership anywhere.




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  42. michael reynolds says:

    @teve tory:
    Yep, it’s connected, that’s our oligarch. So Mueller undoubtedly has this same information. If this is confirmed Cohen is going to prison. He’ll either flip or live in a steel box for a few years.




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  43. michael reynolds says:

    @Jen:
    Au contraire, Trump is brilliantly executing the strategy of erasing the black president’s accomplishments, damn the consequences. The fact that Putin is loving this is icing on the cake.




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  44. Don says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Cheering for a team. You’re blind




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  45. CSK says:

    @de stijl:

    Thanks. Baby, I Need Your Lovin’…great, great song.




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  46. Daryl’s other brother Darryl says:

    @michael reynolds:
    @Doug Mataconis:
    AT&T and Novartis have admitted paying into the account.
    Dennison has been getting paid.
    Bunch of second rate gangsters.




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  47. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    Soul music is meant to comfort and provoke simultaneously. We suck at presidents currently, but we have The Four Tops and Bobby Womack in the back pocket always. It heartens me. We produced this affirming music in very dark times. Fuck today. Today sucked. Make tomorrow better.




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  48. de stijl says:

    We have The Four Tops and Cheap Trick and The Beach Boys and The Replacements and Billie Holiday and Prince. We kick ass. Screw these guys. They’re yesterdays trash and don’t even know it yet. Fuck ’em.




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  49. TM01 says:

    ” Not without some merit, this announcement could lead the North Koreans to conclude that the United States cannot be trusted to live up to the agreements it enters into.”

    Or maybe it’s a lesson that one man’s personal pledge is not the same as an actual treaty ratified by Congress.

    Live by the Pen and the Phone.
    Die by the Pen and the Phone.




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  50. TM01 says:

    @Kathy:

    So I wonder what the actions by the Moron in Chief today will mean for Boeing…

    So you’re saying Trump made a decision based on the interests of the country, not the interests of some corporate entity.

    Sounds good to me!




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  51. TM01 says:

    @Kathy:

    How long before Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the UAE and go figure whom else begin to crank up their own nuclear weapons programs?

    According to the JCPOA, around 2025 I think when Iran fully starts up their nuclear program again.




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  52. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched in Korea. The jury will still be out even if the summit occurs. I remain hopeful, but that’s more despite Trump than because of him.




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  53. de stijl says:

    Speaking of which…




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  54. Yank says:

    @Don: Obama still has saving the economy and the auto industry, taking out Bin Laden, financial regulations, the ACA. Also the Paris Agreement still lives even with the US withdrawal, as does the Iran deal. But thanks for confirming that this all about Obama’s legacy, not any substantial or coherent policy disagreement.




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  55. de stijl says:

    @TM01:

    According to the JCPOA, around 2025 I think when Iran fully starts up their nuclear program again.

    Why would Iran restart their nuclear program? Oh, I forgot we fucked up and *allowed* them to, and then we *prodded* them to do so for zero in return. How does this help us? Please explain.

    We got the one thing we didn’t want and now we no longer have any control or oversight over their activities. How is this helpful or productive? How does this make us safer?




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  56. de stijl says:

    @Yank:

    Dude basically kicked ass quietly. O is a bad ass. Shh!




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  57. de stijl says:

    We got the worst result we could ever expect and we got less than nothing in return.

    This is the worst outcome that could happen unless you’re in love with the idea of an Israel / Iran war. Of all possibilities, we chose the worst possible outcome on purpose. And I don’t know why!?!

    And an Israel / Iran war will crater the economy.

    I had the right idea earlier and just turtle up cuz this will be really bad.

    What have we done? This is existentially bad.




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  58. de stijl says:

    If you’re a prepper and / or and end times person, you are in the full upright and locked position.

    Do y’all understand what a full mid-east war actually means? This is very much closer as of today. Do you enjoy combustion engines that run on gasoline, not cars, but generators?. Do you enjoy electricity? Do you like a hot bath / shower? Do you like a toilet that flushes? Do you drive on plowed roads during winter?

    Puerto Rico is living this world, why not the rest of us.




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  59. One American says:

    @TM01: maybe Stormy and her lawyer will save us from all this corruption ha MAGA and that pervert NY AG maybe?




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  60. TM01 says:

    ” Not without some merit, this announcement could lead the North Koreans to conclude that the United States cannot be trusted to live up to the agreements it enters into.”

    Can’t believe I forgot about this one….

    You know what should really make NK conclude that the US won’t live up to it’s commitments? Libya.

    If Kim Jong-un does actually give up his nuclear program, he should be worried that the next Democrat president will still attempt to forcibly remove him via regime change.

    But you still think Trump is damaging America’s reputation. #FFS




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  61. TM01 says:

    Europe. Russia. China. Democrats.
    Everyone is opposed to what Trump just did.

    But wait…. Why no mention of other Middle easy countries. What do THEY think of this?

    Israel? UAE? Saudi Arabia? Are they against what Trump just did too?




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  62. Jen says:

    There is no real leverage to “get a better deal.”

    The only way to do that is to have all the parties that were on the original deal to agree to it.

    That isn’t going to happen. Ever. Under any circumstances.

    The fact that this isn’t blindingly obvious to Trump supporters would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Sanctions on North Korea worked because: 1) virtually everyone we needed was on board with them; and more importantly, 2) China was getting nervous that the sanctions could cause a flood of refugees and the potential collapse of N. Korea.

    There is no such unity and no such leverage on Iran. There are too many competing interests, and, most importantly, Iran has a resource that does not exist in N. Korea: oil.

    The global economic impact if the price of oil goes through the roof will be disastrous.




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  63. SC_Birdflyte says:

    I eagerly await the beneficial outcome from Mangolini’s 11-dimensional chess game.




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  64. PJ says:

    @TM01:
    You forgot the hardliners in Iran.

    On Wednesday the commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards congratulated the nation on the US exit. Mohammad Ali Jafari said: “I congratulate and see as a good deed the vicious withdrawal of the US from JCPOA, which was not credible even before the withdrawal … It was proved once more that US isn’t trustworthy in regards its commitments.”

    At the opening session of the Iranian parliament, a group of hardline MPs held up a paper US flag and the text of the JCPOA before setting fire to both and chanting “death to America”.




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  65. becca says:

    @TM01: Please expand on your Libya logic.
    It seems quite nebulous, but we’re willing to listen…




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  66. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @TM01:
    Let’s address your ignorance one point at a time…

    one man’s personal pledge

    Actually it was an agreement between Iran and what’s called the P5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany), the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Congress did not ratify this agreement as a treaty but did, however, pass a law requiring it’s periodic review. President Dennison unilaterally violated the terms of the agreement without cause…he has not claimed Iran violated the agreement. He simply chose to, himself.

    So you’re saying Trump made a decision based on the interests of the country, not the interests of some corporate entity.

    No…that is, of course, a false dichotomy…violating the terms of the agreement serves neither the best interests of this country, nor any corporate entities involved.

    Israel? UAE? Saudi Arabia? Are they against what Trump just did too?

    Of course not…Dennison just definitively aligned the US with Israel and the Arab states…Jews and Sunni’s…choosing sides over the Shia. This is the exact same mistake Bush made in Iraq, which of course led directly to the rise of ISIS.

    TMzero…it’s troubling that people like you hold these extremely rigid views, when you apparently know so little about what you are talking about, and are so incapable of processing complex issues. It’s even more troubling when you people like you follow someone, unquestioningly, who is no smarter, or no more capable of thinking for himself, than you are.




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  67. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Eric Florack:

    was a campaign promise

    So was “the wall” Mexico was going to pay for.
    So was beautiful health care that would cover more people, with better coverage, at lower costs.
    So was a middle class tax cut that would not benefit Dennison, himself.
    So was draining the swamp.




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  68. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:

    Israel? UAE? Saudi Arabia? Are they against what Trump just did too?

    Israel, SA and UAE want us to go to war with Iran. Do you want war? Do you want to spend a trillion dollars losing another war? Do you want to lose thousands of American lives? Do you have some interest in advancing Sunni Islam over Shia Islam?

    Israel and the Saudis are playing Trump and quite likely paying him, too, given that Trump is evidently desperate for money.

    Edit: That’s what I get for becoming distracted mid-comment. @Daryl said it better.




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  69. drj says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    TMzero…it’s troubling that people like you hold these extremely rigid views

    TM01 doesn’t hold rigid views at all.

    If Trump decides the reinstate the Iran deal tomorrow, TM01 will be all in favor and will immediately condemn anyone who dares to oppose the Great Leader.

    Modern-day conservatism is as flexible as it gets (e.g., Evangelical fundies worshipping pornstar-f#cking Trump).

    As long as it pisses off the libs, it’s all good.




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  70. michael reynolds says:

    @drj:
    Yep. Cult members only have one position: praise Dear Leader.




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  71. Kathy says:

    What, I wonder, is Trump’s master 14th-dimensional plan to obtain a “better deal ” from Iran?

    Surely such a masterful negotiator wouldn’t tear up an agreement without having something already in place and ready to be implemented. Like his party did with the repeal and replace of Obamacare.




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  72. TM01 says:

    @de stijl: Why would Iran restart their nuclear program?

    Gee IDK.

    Because they’re a terrorist nation with dreams of ruling the entire middle-east? At least.

    But hey. Let’s ignore the Iranian people rising up against the regime and send them a pallet full of cash instead for nothing in return except vague promises.

    Israel and the Saudis are paying Trump so he’s doing their bidding! And he’s also Putin’s stooge! OMG TRUMP!

    And when was the last time Iran DIDN’T chant Death To America?




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  73. michael reynolds says:

    @TM01:
    Which people are those ‘rising up against the regime?’ There are protests over economic issues which the Iranian can now blame on us. Trump just helped the hardliners and cut the nuts off anyone inclined to be moderate toward the US.

    Who is helped by rising oil prices? Saudi Arabia, Russia and oil companies.

    Who is helped by dividing the western allies? Russia.

    Who is helped if we go to war against Iran? Likud, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

    Can you explain why any of this is good for us?




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  74. An Interested Party says:

    maybe Stormy and her lawyer will save us from all this corruption…

    Hmm, maybe they will…

    Because they’re a terrorist nation with dreams of ruling the entire middle-east? At least.

    Well certainly Bush’s Iraq Disaster helped Iran immensely…I wonder if you agreed with that particular debacle…




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  75. Blue Galangal says:

    @de stijl: Thank you for all your posts in this thread. (Especially Dream Operator.)

    I’m doing site visits, with a Turkish grad student, so for obvious reasons we are both glad to b avoiding the news right now. I logged on here for some camaraderie, which I received, and got some unexpected joy as well from you. So again – thank you.




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  76. Tyrell says:

    Iran leaders are saying “Death to U.S.
    Death to Israel”. American flags being burned! They done went and crossed the line!




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  77. teve tory says:

    Bolton and Co. understood the deal and wanted it gone in an effort to invade Iran. Trump’s probably too dumb and ADHD to even know what was in the deal, he just knows it was an Obama success so it had to go.

    With any luck the rest of the world will ignore us and war won’t happen. It’s not like the pro-Iran-war staffers have any better chance of surviving a typical month than any other staffer.

    Shitty as Pence would be, he’d probly put the kibosh on invading Iran.




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