In his recent speech at the United Nations, President Trump, never one given to understatement, blasted Iran as “a rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.” He once again described the Iran deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” The only thing missing was a nickname for Iran’s supreme leader.
Predictably, Iran’s foreign minister struck back, saying that “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times.” But the speech undoubtedly made our allies uncomfortable as well. A few weeks ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had suggested that the Iran deal could provide a template for a diplomatic solution to the North Korean crisis.
Despite opposition from the international community, Trump will probably refuse to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October, effectively causing the deal to implode. He would be right, and acting within his rights, to do so.
There are three reasons the Iran deal is even worse than you think:
First, it releases our chokehold on terrorist financing. The essence of the deal is that the United States and five other nations will continue to roll back billions of dollars in sanctions as long as Iran complies with its promise not to develop weapons-grade uranium for use in nuclear weapons for 10 years. The deal fails to address Iran’s well-documented support of terrorism and, on the contrary, mandates sanctions relief for financial institutions that have facilitated terrorism.
As a lawyer, I represent the families of terrorist victims in lawsuits against Iran. I can tell you first-hand that when you pull back the curtain on the intricate web of terrorism financing, Iran is the one holding the money bag. Things will only get worse if Trump recertifies the deal.
Second, the deal puts a bounty on American citizens deployed abroad. President Barack Obama can deny it all he wants, but when the United States sent a plane to Iran on Jan. 16, 2016, containing $400 million in unmarked currencies, and the money was turned over on the same day that five U.S. hostages were freed (after which the United States sent an additional $1.3 billion to Iran), that is the definition of a quid pro quo. Despite this red-handed evidence, Obama declared, “We do not pay ransom for hostages.”
I know one Iranian-supported militia group that did not believe him. Two days before the hostages were released, and after word presumably spread about the upcoming deal, three American citizens were kidnapped in Iraq by forces supported by Iranian funds. Perhaps the timing was coincidental, or perhaps Tehran decided that it was about to give up American bargaining chips so it might as well first capture three more.
Fortunately, all three Americans were released after 31 days of captivity, but not before they were tortured severely. We have now filed suit on their behalf against Iran. But the question remains: Would these men have ever been captured if the word wasn’t out that America pays ransom for hostages?
Third, the deal sets up Iran to become a regional superpower, threatening America’s longstanding allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel. With Iran’s growing military power (including the testing of ballistic missiles), its growing cyber-economy, and its plan for space travel, the rogue regime already poses a huge threat. And with its support of terrorism and destabilizing activities unchecked, it may now be able to create a Shi’ite axis extending from Iran all the way through Syria and Lebanon.
So what can be done?
The press and international community are narrowly focused on whether Iran has technically complied with the nuclear aspects of the deal. But when the president reports to Congress in October, pursuant to the Corker-Cardin law that requires his certification of Iran’s compliance, he must also certify that the suspension of sanctions under the deal is appropriate and vital to the national security interests of the United States. As U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley recently explained: “[Under Corker-Cardin] we consider the whole picture, not simply whether Iran has exceeded [the] limit on uranium enrichment. We must consider the whole jigsaw puzzle, not just one of its pieces.”
Can anyone honestly say that allowing Iran to finance terrorists, develop ballistic missile technology, and destabilize countries like Syria, is in the best interest of the United States? Why should we continue to link arms with a country whose parliament recently broke into a spontaneous chant of “Death to America” after voting to increase its military budget? For a leader who wrote The Art of the Deal, the answer should be obvious.