You have to give a little to get a little. That’s the art of the deal. But when Barack Obama bargained with Iran’s mullahs over their nuclear program, he gave away the store — including the cash drawer — and only got a little time in return before the advent of the Islamic bomb. Buying peril on the lay-away plan does the world no favors. President Trump calls it “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and he wants to alter it. To act in the interest of the United States, after all, is his sworn duty as president and commander in chief.
The president set the stage for a shakeup of the Iran nuclear deal at a gathering of military leaders at the White House last week. “The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” he said. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”
Facing an Oct. 15 deadline for the recertification that Iran is complying with the deal, Mr. Trump is said to be mulling a plan to invalidate the deal. He would give Congress the task of drafting a better deal that does not inevitably lead to a nuclear Iran. Failing that, the U.S. would reimpose sanctions, unilaterally if necessary. He should insist that any new agreement is rightly called a treaty that would have to be ratified by a vote of the Senate. This would put the Democrats on a spot where they do not want to be.
The 2015 pact negotiated between the U.S. and Iran and signed by certain other world powers ostensibly mothballed the Islamic regime’s nuclear program for a decade and gave compliance inspectors access to some, but not all, nuclear sites. In return, harsh economic sanctions were lifted and Barack Obama foolishly delivered $400 million in cash to Tehran, followed by $1.3 billion two days later, purportedly to settle a long-standing dispute from the 1970s. Some deal.
For the mullahs it was Christmas, you might say, in July. Sanctions were collapsing Iran’s economy with its gross domestic product plummeting from $592 billion in 2011 to $393 billion in 2015. President Obama saved the day — and the Iranian nation — and replenished Iranian coffers with cash the regime can spend on its favorite pastime, exporting terrorism.
Mr. Trump faces a solid wall of opposition to decertification from Democrats and their media echo chamber, who say the president risks inflaming tensions with the Islamic nation simply to fulfill a campaign promise that resonated with “low-information” voters.
But those critics tie themselves in illogical knots railing against the American gun culture in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre while taking potshots at the administration’s efforts to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of tyrants who loudly promise to destroy the United States and Israel.
Mr. Obama made an end run around Congress by refusing to take his nuclear deal to the Senate in the form of a treaty, the conventional and constitutional course for such a sweeping international pact. Mr. Trump could redeem that failure by doing now what Mr. Obama should have done.
To simply continue down the pathway set before him would ensure that Iran acquires nuclear weapons within a decade and that the world will inevitably face a greater threat at a later date. Aesop’s lazy grasshopper would have halted his singing to applaud Mr. Obama. The hardworking ant would waive merriment to prepare for hard times, and that’s the relevant lesson for the president.
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