Ironically, these recent pronouncements and crisis escalations help to crystalize three approaches to pressure President Trump to stay in the Iran agreement.
First, the generals and Pentagon nuclear analysts are still telling the White House to preserve the Iran Deal. And their leader, Secretary of Defense Mattis, testified yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the utility of the JCPOA for the U.S. and global security.
He said there was no compelling reason for the president to abandon the deal, even as he asserted that U.S. goals were also to stifle Iran's troublesome behavior in the region. Mattis' claims need amplification by various other policy influencers.
Second, U.S. intelligence analysts should insist that a full review of Israeli's archival Iran files be completed to test their accuracy regarding post-JCPOA Iranian actions and resources against the findings of IAEA on-the-ground monitoring.
We must remind the White House that only the deal in full operative form provides for such monitoring to continue, and such a comparative review is imperative. Thus, it is in U.S. interests that the deal remain in place to function.
President Trump likes having leverage, but withdrawing from the deal now actually gives that away with little in return. This is especially the case as Europe will remain in the deal, adding to its business advantages through greater economic exchanges with Iran.
Meanwhile the U.S. needlessly isolates itself while it mistakenly thinks it has isolated Iran. And, the president needs to remember that if he stays in the deal, the threat that he might withdraw later actually increases his leverage in areas where he wants to press Iran.
Third, for those in Congress who worry that a more aggressive national security team in the White House may push the President too quickly to use military force, this week should focus their concern about the increased risk of military response to Iranian actions.
In light of the Israeli claims and the impending May 12 deadline, Congressional committees should press adviser Bolton and Secretary Pompeo on the specific sections of the Iran deal that evidence supports are being violated by Iran and to seek assurances on U.S. actions to continue diplomatically to address these as provided in the JCPOA itself.
In working in these three directions, the U.S. policy community would be employing the best sense of Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" strategy regarding new information about the nuclear deal. This needs to be done before Trump kills the deal as the first casualty of the coming war.
Commentary by George A. Lopez, the Hesburgh Professor Emeritus of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies in the Keough School of Global Affairs. Follow him on Twitter
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