Axelrod: Leaving Iran deal 'unmitigated disaster'

CNN analyst tells Don Lemon that he predicts President Donald Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, and if he does, it could drive a wedge between the US and allies.

Posted: May 8, 2018 4:24 PM
Updated: May 8, 2018 4:30 PM

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is quitting the Iran nuclear deal, pitting him against the United States' closest allies and leaving the future of Tehran's nuclear ambitions in question.

"It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement," Trump said from the White House Diplomatic Room. "The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing we know exactly what will happen."

In announcing his decision, Trump said he would initiate new sanctions on the regime, crippling the touchstone agreement negotiated by his predecessor. Trump said any country that helps Iran obtain nuclear weapons would also be "strongly sanctioned."

"This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made," the President said. "It didn't bring calm, it didn't bring peace, and it never will."

Senior Trump administration officials -- including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats -- have said Iran is adhering to its commitments under the deal. But Trump has argued while they may be sticking to the letter of the accord, they have violated its spirit by fostering discord in the region.

Trump derided the deal as an embarrassment that gave the regime dollars at the same time it sponsored terrorism.

"At the point when the US had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime -- and it's a regime of great terror -- many billions of dollars, some of it in actually cash -- a great embarrassment to me as a citizen," Trump said.

The sanctions could take months to go into effect as the US government develops guidance for companies and banks. But reapplying the sanctions -- which were lifted in exchange for Iran's commitment to curb its nuclear program -- will effectively cripple the 2015 accord that Trump has deemed a disaster.

Long a harsh critic of the nuclear accord, Trump has until now resisted taking steps to fully withdraw from the plan.

It further isolates Trump on the global stage, where he has angered even the staunchest US allies by reneging on US commitments to the Paris climate accord and pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

The grace period until the sanctions are imposed may offer the deal's proponents an opening to negotiate, and Trump said Tuesday he was open to finding diplomatic means to address his concerns.

But the uncertainty is expected to forestall foreign investments in Iran that were made possible by the pact.

Outreach

Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Capitol Hill midday to inform members of Congress of Trump's decision to withdraw, people familiar with the matter said.

Trump, meanwhile, spoke early in the day with Chinese President Xi Jinping and phoned French President Emmanuel Macron mid-morning.

A French source familiar with the call between Trump and Macron described the conversation as "very, very disappointing."

Macron was one of several European leaders who had lobbied Trump to remain in the deal, arguing it remains the best way to curtail Iran's nuclear ambitions. Both Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Washington to make their appeals in person.

Trump told them the deal failed to address Iran's ballistic missile program or its support of terror in the Middle East. They appeared receptive and began negotiations on a separate deal that would address his concerns. But European diplomats expressed only pessimism that their efforts would be successful.

"It's pretty obvious to me that unless something changes in the next few days, I believe the President will not waive the sanctions," one European diplomat told reporters on Monday.

Trump's final decision to withdraw from the deal was made over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the discussions, though it was long considered a foregone conclusion inside the White House.

National security adviser John Bolton, an Iran hawk who nonetheless told people he was committed to providing all options to Trump, offered a variety of paths, including reimposing all sanctions, applying new sanctions, or allowing for more time to negotiate with the Europeans.

Trump determined that more time would not bridge disagreements, most pointedly his demand that Iran's nuclear program be curbed past the current deal's sunset in 2030.

In his talks with Macron and Merkel, Trump left little doubt that he was planning to withdraw, according to Western diplomats. But he insisted he hadn't made a final decision and kept his precise plans guarded.

Off-guard

Some White House officials were caught off guard when Trump announced on Twitter Monday that he was planning to make the announcement. Most aides expected him to wait until closer to Saturday, when the deadline for issuing a sanctions waiver landed.

One US official suggested the timing was moved up so as not to impede next week's opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem, another move that could cause jitters in the Middle East.

The decision will strike a blow to the nuclear deal, though other signatories to the plan, including Germany, France and the UK, have said they will maintain their commitments.

But new US sanctions will undoubtedly cause companies to reconsider investments in Iran and European firms may have no choice but to scale back or risk running afoul of US rules.

The grace period could allow for further negotiations between US allies on a side agreement that addresses Trump's concerns about the missile program and Tehran's support for terror groups. But even if a deal is struck, it's not clear how they would convince Iran to sign on, or whether Russia and China -- two other partners to the deal -- would agree.

Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 74°
Robinson
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 72°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 80°
Rockville
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Casey
Broken Clouds
71° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 74°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 74°
Storms Possible
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 151572

Reported Deaths: 7329
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook940054676
Lake10175427
DuPage9502483
Kane7971281
Will7120322
Winnebago3143101
McHenry2208100
St. Clair2128144
Kankakee134465
Unassigned1170210
Rock Island110730
Madison109570
Kendall102423
Champaign101017
Boone62921
Peoria60929
DeKalb60220
Sangamon49333
Jackson34519
McLean30115
Randolph2927
Ogle2834
Stephenson2826
Clinton24417
Macon24222
LaSalle23917
Whiteside20315
Union19619
Coles18817
Grundy1875
Iroquois1705
Tazewell1648
Knox1520
Monroe14713
Warren1470
Adams1421
Williamson1394
Cass1367
Morgan1323
Jefferson11317
Lee1042
Henry1031
McDonough10315
Vermilion852
Pulaski790
Marion770
Montgomery641
Macoupin623
Perry601
Douglas550
Livingston542
Jo Daviess491
Christian484
Jasper477
Ford421
Woodford412
Franklin400
Jersey381
Bureau312
Menard280
Mercer280
Washington250
Cumberland240
Fayette233
Johnson230
Mason230
Wabash230
Alexander220
Carroll212
Clark210
Piatt210
Effingham201
Shelby201
Bond191
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Crawford180
Logan180
De Witt160
Edgar160
Fulton160
Massac150
Wayne151
Schuyler130
Marshall120
Saline110
Brown100
Greene80
Henderson80
Lawrence80
Richland80
White80
Hamilton70
Stark60
Pike50
Gallatin40
Clay20
Edwards20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Out of IL11
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 49575

Reported Deaths: 2739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11812690
Lake5337247
Elkhart343257
Allen2867133
St. Joseph202569
Cass16439
Hamilton1629101
Hendricks1439100
Johnson1306118
Porter78038
Tippecanoe7439
Clark67144
Madison66864
Vanderburgh6296
LaPorte59727
Bartholomew59245
Howard58258
Kosciusko5654
Marshall5217
Noble49128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4773
Delaware46052
Boone45944
Hancock45736
Shelby43425
Floyd39144
Morgan32831
Monroe31528
Grant30226
Montgomery29720
Henry29316
Dubois2906
Clinton2882
White26810
Decatur25532
Lawrence25125
Dearborn24723
Vigo2408
Warrick23229
Harrison21722
Greene19132
Miami1892
Jennings17912
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess15017
Wayne1496
Perry1409
Orange13623
Steuben1332
Franklin1278
Jasper1252
Ripley1247
Wabash1152
Carroll1122
Fayette1037
Gibson1032
Newton9910
Whitley995
Starke963
Huntington822
Randolph804
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox650
Clay644
Rush603
Owen511
Adams491
Posey490
Benton480
Spencer461
Sullivan451
Brown421
Blackford392
Fountain332
Crawford320
Tipton311
Switzerland280
Parke240
Martin220
Ohio210
Vermillion170
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193