Foreign Policy

Trump Just Ripped Up the Iran Nuclear Deal. Now What?

Donald Trump violated the Iran deal. Even though international inspectors have certified that Iran has been complying with its end of the bargain, even though it has successfully kept us safer, and even though some of our closest allies urged Trump not to do this, Trump has pulled out of the deal.

It’s yet another chapter in the rising #TrumpThreatLevel, and the consequences are potentially enormous.

The Iran nuclear deal has been preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and helping to keep us out of a new war with Iran. Now that the United States has withdrawn - for no reason - the deal is in serious trouble.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Iran nuclear deal?

  • The Iran deal (formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) was struck in 2015 between the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union and Iran. It forced Iran to give up its pathways to build a nuclear weapon in exchange for some sanctions relief.
  • The deal also imposed the most rigorous, invasive inspections on Iran in history. International inspectors have 24/7 access to Iran’s nuclear sites because of this deal, in order to catch any attempts by Iran to violate the deal. If the deal falls apart, so does this access.
  • Those inspectors have confirmed over and over that the deal is working and that Iran is complying with the deal. Trump’s own national security officials, including Secretary of Defense Mattis and General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have also said the deal is working and the U.S. should stay in it. Unfortunately, Trump’s new War Cabinet (including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisory John Bolton) have long been in support of war with Iran instead of diplomacy, and Trump took their side this time.
  • Our international allies have been urging Trump to stay in the deal. Close partners including the UK, France and Germany have urged Trump to stay in compliance with the Iran deal, and expressed dismay that he decided to pull out of it. Iran has already escalated its rhetoric as a result of U.S. behavior, with one Iranian parliamentarian saying that Trump seems to only understand the language of force. This does not bode well for our standing in the global community.

How and why did Trump violate the deal?

  • Sanctions relief was what the United States brought to the table in this deal. Trump decided to go back on the United States’ word and re-impose sanctions on Iran, for essentially no reason. That means, Iran didn’t violate the deal. The United States did, and now we are out of the deal as a result.
  • Now that the U.S. has pulled out of the deal, it could all fall apart. Because of the re-imposed sanctions, Iran may pull out of the deal too, and resume its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Other partner nations will have to choose between doing business with the U.S. or with Iran, which could cause the whole thing to unravel.
  • We’re more likely to see Trump take us to war with Iran if this deal falls apart. If Iran were to resume its pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Trump and his War Cabinet would likely respond with military force, claiming they’d already unsuccessfully tried diplomacy. That would be foolish, costly, and incredibly risky. There is no reason to take this path.
  • There’s one simple reason that Trump wants to destroy the Iran deal. This deal was a massive foreign policy achievement during the Obama administration, and that’s why Trump wants out of it. With no bullets fired and not a single American troop deployed, the United States found a diplomatic solution to keep Iran away from a nuclear bomb under President Obama’s leadership. Simply because it was Obama’s triumph, Trump now wants nothing to do with it.

What Can Congress Do?

Unfortunately, there’s very little Congress can do to save the deal at this point. It’s yet another foreign policy crisis that was totally avoidable and caused only by Trump’s recklessness.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no role for Congress.

Each Member of Congress must speak up now. The voices who want a new war with Iran and who despise the deal simply because it was President Obama’s achievement are speaking very loudly. Congress must use their platform and issue statements immediately, denouncing Trump’s violation of the deal and urging the administration to choose diplomacy over war.

Congress must deny Trump the authority to start a new war with Iran. With the U.S. out of the deal, war with Iran has become more likely. But it’s Congress, and not the President, who decides when and where to go to war. Members of Congress must publicly pledge not to vote to give Trump the congressional authority to take military action in Iran.

Call Your Members of Congress Now!


Caller: Hello, I’m a constituent from [part of state] and I’m very concerned about the possibility of a new war with Iran. Trump foolishly violated the deal and put it in danger of falling apart, even though Iran is complying and it’s keeping us all safe. Will [MoC] issue a public statement denouncing his actions and urging diplomacy, not war with Iran?

Staffer: Thank you for sharing those concerns. [MoC] is considering [his/her] options right now.

Caller: That’s not acceptable. Particularly with John Bolton, who has long advocated for war with Iran, now advising Trump, we are at a high risk for war with Iran. Will [MoC] make sure this doesn’t happen?

Staffer: I hear your concern. [MoC] is also concerned because Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and commits a lot of human rights abuses. Plus they are hostile to us, our ally Israel, and others.

Caller: This is exactly why we can’t let them have a nuclear weapon, which is what this deal was doing.  It is crucial for [MoC] to stand up to Trump on this and keep us safe.

Staffer: I’ll certainly relay your concerns to [MoC].

Caller: Yes, please do. I will be watching for [MoC]’s statement denouncing Trump’s actions and urging no new war with Iran.