September 21, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Trump:
We are writing to you as national security experts, many who worked in the nuclear weapons, arms control, nonproliferation and intelligence fields, to express our strong opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) and to ask that you withdraw the United States from this dangerous agreement as soon as possible.
We also call on your administration to declare to Congress next month that Iran has not been complying with this agreement and that it is not in the national security interests of the United States.
We strongly supported your statements during the 2016 presidential campaign that the JCPOA was one of the worst international agreements ever negotiated and as president that you would either withdraw from or renegotiate this deal. Your campaign statements accurately reflected that the JCPOA is a fraud since it allows Iran to continue its nuclear weapons program while the agreement is in effect by permitting it to enrich uranium, operate and develop advanced uranium centrifuges and operate a heavy-water reactor. Such limited restrictions as the deal actually imposes on Iran’s enrichment program will expire in eight years. In addition, the JCPOA’s inspection provisions are wholly inadequate.
We also note that a joint July 11, 2017 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from Senators Cruz, Rubio, Cotton and Perdue outlined significant violations of the JCPOA by Iran, the most important of which is Iran’s refusal to permit IAEA inspections of military facilities.
In addition, although the JCPOA did not require Iran to halt its belligerent and destabilizing behavior, President Obama and Secretary Kerry repeatedly claimed it would lead to an improvement. This has not happened. To the contrary, after the JCPOA, Iran’s behavior has significantly worsened. Tehran stepped up its ballistic missile program and missile launches. There was a 90% increase in Iran’s 2016-2017 military budget. Iran has increased its support to terrorist groups and sent troops into Syria. Harassment of shipping in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea also increased, including missiles fired at U.S. and Gulf state ships by the Houthi rebels, an Iranian proxy in Yemen.
Moreover, in light of major advances in North Korea’s nuclear program, we are very concerned that North Korea and Iran are actively sharing nuclear weapons technology and that Iran is providing funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. CIA Director Mike Pompeo suggested this possibility during a September 11 Fox News interview.
We are unconvinced by doom-and-gloom predictions of the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. The sky did not fall when you withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Claims that Iran will step up its nuclear program or engage in more belligerent behavior must be considered against the backdrop of what Iran is allowed to do under the JCPOA and its actual conduct since this “political understanding” was announced.
Some Iran deal advocates argue that the United States should remain in the JCPOA and instead try to amend it to fix its flaws over several years. A few contend you could decertify the agreement to Congress, but remain in the deal and then try to amend it. Since Iran has made it clear it will not agree to changes to the JCPOA, we believe these proposals are unrealistic. Continuing to legitimate the agreement is not conducive to its renegotiation. The day will never come when the mullahs agree to amend the sweetheart deal they got in the JCPOA.
Ambassador John Bolton has drawn up a plan to implement a far more effective, comprehensive and multilateral approach to address the threat from Iran. This approach includes strict new sanctions to bar permanently the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran. He also calls for new sanctions in response to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and efforts to destabilize the Middle East, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Unlike the JCPOA, which was negotiated with no input from America’s allies in the Middle East, Ambassador Bolton outlines a multilateral campaign to forge a new comprehensive approach to the threat from Iran that includes the Gulf States and Israel to assure that their security interests are taken into account.
We agree with Ambassador John Bolton that strong international sanctions, a tough negotiating strategy and a decisive American president who will not engage in appeasement is the best approach to rein in Iran’s belligerent behavior and induce it to joining negotiations on a better agreement.
As national security experts who understand the urgency of addressing the growing threat from Iran, we urge you to implement the Bolton plan, withdraw from the dangerous Iran nuclear deal and not certify Iranian compliance to Congress next month. It is time to move beyond President Obama’s appeasement of Iran and to begin work on a comprehensive new approach that fully addresses the menace that the Iranian regime increasingly poses to American and international security.
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