In a White House announcement Trump called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union — a “horrible, one-sided deal that should never ever have been made.”
The nuclear deal was President Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement, and it resulted in the suspension of crippling economic sanctions maintained by the United States and its European allies. The deal freed up perhaps $100 billion in Iranian accounts frozen in other countries and gave Iran billions more in ongoing revenue.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aggressively opposed the deal before and after it was reached and in April used new revelations about Iran’s nuclear weapons program as evidence that the JCPOA was a sham.
But while the White House issued a long list of criticisms of Iran’s actions and bad faith before and after 2015, Trump did not cite any Iranian violations of the JCPOA. Instead, his administration focused on the failures of the deal itself, including providing an eventual path to a nuclear-armed Iran.
The United States also issued a list of fresh demands on Iran to win the suspension of the sanctions on its energy and financial sectors. Among them:
- Stop developing ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear devices.
- Stop spreading ballistic missiles to others.
- Stop supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, and other “terrorists, extremists and regional proxies.”
- Stop declaring a desire to destroy Israel.
- Stop cyberattacks against the United States and its allies, including Israel.
- Stop abusing human rights.
- Stop detaining U.S. citizens and other foreigners.
The White House said its actions are aimed at the Iranian regime, not Iran’s long-suffering people.
Netanyahu said Israel “fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran.”
He added: “The removal of sanctions under the deal has already produced disastrous results. The deal didn’t push war further away; it actually brought it closer. The deal didn’t reduce Iran’s aggression, it dramatically increased it, and we see this across the entire Middle East. Since the deal, we’ve seen Iran’s aggression grow every day — in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, in Gaza and most of all in Syria, where Iran is trying to establish military bases from which to attack Israel.”
J Street, which led American Jewish lobbying in support of the Iran deal, called Trump’s decision “an unprovoked and unjustified assault on international peace and security.”
The J Street statement said allies and international nuclear experts agreed that Iran was following its commitments under the agreement, and it cited former Israeli commanders who last month warned that U.S. withdrawal would undermine Israel’s security.
“This reckless move risks leading us down the path to a costly and bloody war of choice against Iran, a country nearly four times Iraq’s size with more than twice its population,” J Street said. “We call on Congress to act urgently to avert the most dire potential consequences of the president’s action. Lawmakers should move to bring the United States back into compliance with the agreement by suspending the necessary sanctions legislatively.”
Among other reactions:
- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said the announcement is “an important and significant step in ensuring the security of the state of Israel, the security of the region and the security of the entire free world.”
- The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which opposed the deal in 2015, commended Trump, citing Iran’s ongoing “nefarious and violent activities.”
- World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder praised Trump’s decision, saying it sent an “unmistakable message to Iran and its allies that its very real threats against the United States and all other free and democratic nations in the world will not be tolerated.”
- The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper issued a statement claiming that “lying is the national anthem and Magna Carta of the ayatollah’s regime” and that leaving that regime awash in cash was not a viable option for the United States.
- Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said the decision built on long-deserved skepticism about the deal. “We hope that a more comprehensive arrangement with stricter compliance rules, a prohibition against the development of long- and short-range ballistic missiles, any weaponization program, and, of course, human rights violations, will become a reality. Sanctions targeting banking and energy sectors of the Iranian economy should be imposed. We hope that our European Allies will join in this endeavor. More effective compliance measures without sunset clauses, and giving inspectors unfettered access to military and other barred sites, should be included. The threat that Iran poses to Israel, its neighbors and the world at large mandates a comprehensive approach.”