Security Experts Urge Trump to Keep Iran Pact

Trump is asked to use the nuclear deal as the basis for cooperation on other issues, including a desire by Iran and the US to eliminate the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group
Andrew J. Bacevich  Andrew J. Bacevich

Seventy-six national security experts urged US president-elect Donald Trump on Monday to reverse his hostility to the nuclear agreement signed with Iran last year and to use it as a tool to ease other tensions with the country.

A report signed by the experts, including former officials from both major political parties, argued that the nuclear agreement had reduced the threat of war in the Middle East, The New York Times reported.

Trump has called the nuclear agreement a foreign-policy disaster. He vowed during his campaign to renegotiate or renounce the deal, one of President Barack Obama's signature achievements. The report stated, "The deal proved that diplomacy with Iran can bear fruit."

It urged the incoming Trump administration to use the nuclear agreement as the basis for cooperation on other issues, including a desire by Iran and the United States to eliminate the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, which has convulsed the Middle East and carried out attacks in the West.

The report was produced by the National Iranian American Council, a Washington group that has advocated improved relations with Iran.

"Trump may have been critical of the Iran deal during the campaign, but he will need the deal to remain intact to achieve his other stated goals," Trita Parsi, the president of the council, said in a statement.

  Gauge of Trump's Approach  

Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor of international relations and history at Boston University who endorsed the report, said the question over whether Trump "seeks to sustain and broaden the opening to Iran, or distances himself from this opportunity promises to reveal much about his approach to statecraft".

Other prominent experts who endorsed the report included Lawrence J. Korb, a former assistant defense secretary under president Ronald Reagan; Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to former secretary of state Colin Powell; Chas W. Freeman Jr., a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant defense secretary for international affairs; and Gary Sick, a Columbia University scholar who served on the National Security Council under Reagan as well as presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

The nuclear deal relaxed many economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs on its civilian nuclear program.

Critics of the agreement said Iran had been granted too many concessions.

How easily or even whether Trump can make good on his promise to renegotiate or scrap the agreement remains unclear. It was negotiated among Iran and six major powers, including the United States, and was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.

The countries who joined the United States in signing the deal—Iran, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany—have said they intend to honor the agreement, which would isolate the United States should it withdraw and would weaken the effect of any unilateral American sanctions.

On Monday, European Union ministers added their endorsement of the agreement.

The agreement, which officially took effect in January, has released hundreds of millions of dollars in impounded Iranian funds and spurred a rush of European business interest in Iran trade and investment deals, generating momentum that would be difficult to reverse.

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