President Trump’s foreign policy shakeup adds new worries about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
He will have to decide by May 12 whether to recertify Iranian compliance with Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement. He has called it “the worst deal ever” and threatened to pull out unless his demands for changes are met.
He’s unlikely to get those changes since the other signatories to the deal — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and Iran – all refuse, saying it may be flawed but it is working.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a harsh foe of the JCPOA has been demanding “fix it or nix it,” although many in his intelligence and security establishment, including four former defense ministers, are telling him the Iranians are in compliance and however imperfect it may be, it is worth keeping.
That’s also what Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is telling Trump, but not Mike Pompeo, the outgoing CIA director and incoming secretary of state, and John Bolton, the new national security advisor. Both have long insisted it is beyond repair and should be abrogated.
Bolton has called over the years for preemptive wars against Iran and North Korea to destroy their nuclear programs and force regime change. It has been said by former colleagues that he will be able to push his extremist ideas on this president and make him think they are his own.
Carl Ford, a former CIA official and senior State Department intelligence official during the George W. Bush administration, warned in a Facebook posting that Trump and Bolton could “find themselves blundering into a Cuban missile-like crisis” over Iran, North Korea and China.
And US military action against Iran is almost certain to trigger devastating retaliation against a vulnerable Jewish state.
In hiring Bolton, Trump has selected an architect of the Iraq war that Trump called “disastrous” and claimed (incorrectly) that he adamantly opposed from the outset.
If Trump pulls out of the Iran deal, Iran will probably “move quickly, without any restraint, to enrich uranium, the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons,” warned Amb. Wendy Sherman, the lead JCPOA negotiator.
“The march to military conflict will be hard to stop” with Bolton leading the NSC, she said. “Nothing about this decision will increase American security.”
Ha’aretz columnist Chemi Shalev wrote, “Bolton has yet to meet a war he didn’t love…an international conflict he didn’t believe could be solved by force of arms.”
Only in this chaotic Trump administration would you look for stability, responsibility and adult leadership in a retired marine general and defense secretary called “Mad Dog.”