San Diego Congressional Reps. React As Trump Withdraws From Iran Nuclear Accord
Global markets are still unsettled and many world leaders publicly angry after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. The decision was a fulfillment of trumps campaign promise to remove the U.S. from what he called a horrible one-sided deal and reinstate sanctions against Iran. For the most part Republicans applauded the decision. Democrats were highly critical. That is the breakdown of reaction within San Diego's congressional delegation. Joining me versus Republican Congressman Darrell I. Congressman welcome. >>> In your Iran announcement, you said that the deal negotiated by the Obama administration was not worth the paper it was written on can you tell me what you see that >> It had no real enforcement. Can you imagine having to give a 24 day notice before looking for a clandestine facility. Even if we find or hear a whistleblower telling us about research papers or whatever, they have 24 days to clear out. That is one example. The other one is they get to continue and they have continued developing a ballistic missile capability. That alone should concern everyone. >> Reporter: How do you think President Donald Trump's announcement regarding this Iran deal could impact his upcoming meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Mac. >> He is serious that he will not make -- bad deals when you go against somebody like kim jong un who has his father specifically promise the world and did nothing. The nuclear bombs that have been exploded in North Korea do not exist according to an agreement made with then President Clinton in which North Korea agreed to not develop nuclear weapons and did it. Obviously, you cannot use the same things that did not use the first time. The former defense secretary Bill Cohen famously Republican who served in that Democratic administration said and I will quote as best I can, we can no longer kick the can down the road. That summarizes the position that the president is in relative to North Korea where 70 years has gotten us to a nuclear threat with 30,000 Itsunori pieces at a minimum aimed at South Korea and Iran very similarly is at a very close to getting a nuclear and missile capability. >>> There is concern about how withdrawing from the Iran deal could affect our relationship with the other countries. They signed this agreement and thus far they are going to be honoring it. >> We are honoring it. We have a provision that says if you're not happy here's what you can do. Remember, this was a fundamental mistake with the Obama administration. He did not seek a treaty that was binding the and his pen and phone call. This was a unilateral decision by a president. And a unilateral decision by a president is only good until the next person comes along like an executive order. This is where we are. This is not a treaty between countries it is an agreement between President Obama that was a bad agreement. President Donald Trump campaigned on it. There is huge bipartisan support with a great many Democrats joined with Republicans of opposing this deal in San Diego alone Juan Vargas was on my side opposing this deal when President Obama had the house vote on it. >>> Without the agreement, what is the administration's plan should Iran now resume and reaching uranium used for nuclear weapons. >> If you cannot stop them from having a nuclear weapon except for having an agreement that lets them build a nuclear weapon at a minimum of 10 years, then you have a guarantee of building a weapon. By going back to a renegotiation, we are in position to take French President McCrone's proposal because of the four pillars which includes a permanent agreement not to develop nuclear weapons. Any agreement not to develop nuclear weapons that has an expiration date tells you that you don't have an agreement to not build nuclear weapons. >> Is our plan to reopen negotiations on this with a round? >> The president is willing to have, and I don't speak for the president, this negotiation leads to a kind of enforceable program that we have with Iraq or that we had with Libya. Libya opened up their nuclear facilities including allowing inspections of military bases where we ultimately found them. All of those materials were removed. There is an expression we like here on the hill that is it's accurate. No government ever gave up their nuclear weapons without first agreeing to give up the nuclear weapons. That is where we need to be is we need to be on where they need to give it up. Netanyahu is sitting there with a treasure trove of data where his agents have captured and he is willing to have the world see it. He is making it available because he wants everyone to understand they have developed and maintained the ability to quickly get to full nuclear power. >>> I've been speaking with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa and Congressman Issa thank you. >>> I am joined with a Democratic member, Scott peters. President Donald Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the Iran deal and he did it. Can this be seen as a show of strength by America . >> I think it's a show of idiocy. It is discouraging to me on a number of levels. First of all, that we are once again disengaging from world leadership the American people whether it's the Paris agreement in climate or on trade. Now this nuclear deal and Iran where we were part of a multilateral agreement. It is frustrating for me to see America do this. The other thing is there is no strategy. We are not in better shape today than we were yesterday. It is a big step back. >>> The president Secretary of State and the UN agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran had lived up to their side of the deal. But Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terror groups. Is that reason enough to pull out of the plan? >> It is not. Great question. Lot of confusion. The deal only dealt with the nuclear threat. As you said they were complying with the respect that they were not getting closer to getting a nuclear weapon which was the concern we had back in 2015 when we entered into this deal. We have always -- they have always been a sponsor terrorism. They had a ballistic missile that we said we had to deal with separately. We need multilateral efforts with our allies to contain it. We are no better off on that score with respect to terrorism or ballistic missiles. We are worse off with respect to nuclear. There is no way this is an advance. >>> In your response of the presidents decision you said the withdrawal exit easier for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Why is that? Tell us why it makes it easier. >> It is not clear what will happen as a result of this. One of the great things we got out of this deal and I note the intelligence community was excited about this was we had inspectors in Iran looking at whether they were developing enriched uranium that could build bombs. They dismantled the facility that could develop the plutonium bomb. They reduce their stockpiles of enriched uranium. That was all within inspections as the protocols as aggressive as any as there are in the world. The kinds of things we like to get from North Korea. When you take away the good parts of the deal, it makes us weaker. >>> How do you think President Donald Trump's announcement regarding the Iran deal could impact his upcoming meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Mac? It weakens us. Our credibility with the allies is hindered by this. They have been pleading with us not to do this. Any of these deals work better when you have a set of countries and with respect to Iran, we had Russia and China in addition to our European allies. Those people have no reason to think were credible. But if your kim jong un, do you think you can rely on President Donald Trump to standby a deal that the country made? Or do you think that a new president would get the plug on the deal after Trump made it. I think it makes it harder for anyone to trust the United States when it comes to foreign policy. >>> I have been speaking with Democratic Congressman Scott peters. Scott peters, thank you. >> Thank you.
President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, abruptly restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency. He declared he was making the world safer, but he also deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility.
The 2015 agreement, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and included Germany, France and Britain, had lifted most U.S. and international economic sanctions against Iran. In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.
But Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his presidential campaign, said in a televised address from the White House that it was "defective at its core."
U.S. allies in Europe had tried to keep him in and lamented his move to abandon it. Iran's leader ominously warned his country might "start enriching uranium more than before."
The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals.
Major companies in the U.S. and Europe could be hurt, too. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that licenses held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetliners to Iran will be revoked. Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.
He said the sanctions will sharply curtail sales of oil by Iran, which is currently the world's fifth largest oil producer. Mnuchin said he didn't expect oil prices to rise sharply, forecasting that other producers will step up production.
Iran's government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what's left with the Europeans. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was sending his foreign minister to the remaining countries but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them.
Laying out his case, Trump contended, "If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons."
The administration said it would re-impose sanctions on Iran immediately but allow grace periods for businesses to wind down activity. Companies and banks doing business with Iran will have to scramble to extricate themselves or run afoul of the U.S. government.
Meanwhile, for nations contemplating striking their own sensitive deals with Trump, such as North Korea, the withdrawal will increase suspicions that they cannot expect lasting U.S. fidelity to international agreements it signs.
Former President Barack Obama, whose administration negotiated the deal, called Trump's action "misguided" and said, "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."
Yet nations like Israel and Saudi Arabia that loathed the deal saw the action as a sign the United States is returning to a more skeptical, less trusting approach to dealing with adversaries.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Trump's announcement as a "historic move."
Trump, who repeatedly criticized the accord during his presidential campaign, said Tuesday that documents recently released by Netanyahu showed Iran had attempted to develop a nuclear bomb in the previous decade, especially before 2003. Although Trump gave no explicit evidence that Iran violated the deal, he said Iran had clearly lied in the past and could not be trusted.
Iran has denied ever pursuing nuclear arms.
There was a predictably mixed reaction from Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the Iran deal "was flawed from the beginning," and he looked forward to working with Trump on next steps. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, slammed Trump in a statement, saying this "rash decision isolates America, not Iran."
In San Diego, local Congressional representatives issued their own responses:
Applaud @POTUS for decision on #IranDeal and courage to take action when continued participation was not in U.S. best interest. Today’s action presents the opportunity to hold Iran accountable, I look forward to working with @POTUS and my colleagues on a stronger approach.— Rep. Duncan Hunter (@Rep_Hunter) May 8, 2018
By walking away from the #IranDeal, Trump is making it easier for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. He is also undermining America's global leadership and testing long-standing alliances. It's a crippling blow to our credibility in world commerce, diplomacy, and force. https://t.co/LxJ75zrzQe— Rep. Scott Peters (@RepScottPeters) May 8, 2018
Rep. Scott Peters, D-California, later issued the following statement:
I voted for the Iran deal because it made sure that America was at the table to negotiate. This action devastates America’s position as a reliable world leader, and emboldens Iranian political extremism. I stand ready to work with my colleagues to support international peace and security, and mitigate consequences of this irresponsible decision.
In a burst of last-minute diplomacy, punctuated by a visit by Britain's top diplomat, the deal's European members had given ground on many of Trump's demands for reworking the accord, according to officials, diplomats and others briefed on the negotiations. Yet the Europeans realized he was unpersuaded.
Trump spoke with French President Macron and Chinese leader Xi Jinping about his decision Tuesday. Hours before the announcement, European countries met in Brussels with Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, Abbas Araghchi.
In Iran, many are deeply concerned about how Trump's decision could affect the already struggling economy. In Tehran, Rouhani sought to calm nerves, smiling as he appeared at a petroleum expo. He didn't name Trump directly, but emphasized that Iran continued to seek "engagement with the world."
The first 15 months of Trump's presidency have been filled with many "last chances" for the Iran deal in which he's punted the decision for another few months, and then another. As he left his announcement Tuesday, he predicted that Iranians would someday "want to make a new and lasting deal" and that "when they do, I am ready, willing and able."
Even Trump's secretary of state and the U.N. agency that monitors nuclear compliance agree that Iran, so far, has lived up to its side of the deal. But the deal's critics, such as Israel, the Gulf Arab states and many Republicans, say it's a giveaway to Tehran that ultimately would pave the way to a nuclear-armed Iran.
For the Europeans, Trump's withdrawal constitutes dispiriting proof that trying to appease him is futile.
Although the U.S. and Europeans made progress on ballistic missiles and inspections, there were disagreements over extending the life of the deal and how to trigger additional penalties if Iran were found in violation, U.S. officials and European diplomats have said.