My Turn: The importance of the Iran deal

  • President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with senior military leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Oct. 5, including National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster (left) and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (center). AP

For the Monitor
Friday, October 13, 2017

The Iran nuclear deal’s ratification in 2015 marked a new chapter in our relationship with Iran. In exchange for halting our economic sanctions, Iran agreed to curb almost all nuclear activities for the next decade and allow the few remaining uranium enrichment plants to be monitored.

This week, however, President Donald Trump is expected to decertify this deal, forcing a reluctant Congress to ultimately decide its fate without the president’s support.

Ending the United States’ role in the nuclear deal would contribute to overwhelming geopolitical issues. It would ratchet up tensions in the Middle East, destroy any goodwill that existed between our two countries and increase anti-American sentiment in a region already wary of involvement.

At a time when tensions with North Korea are at an all-time high and we are still unraveling the ways in which Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, it is baffling that President Trump would take actions that would directly result in another openly adversarial relationship.

It is particularly mystifying given that President Trump seemingly hates this deal solely because President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in the negotiations. He has offered no succinct explanation for his hatred of this deal beyond a well-rehearsed argument that it isn’t in our national interest to continue because it’s a bad deal.

Except, continued conversations with a cooperating Iran is very much in the national interest of the United States.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph E. Dunford Jr. have both been vocal proponents for this agreement because they understand the gravity of the situation.

Unfortunately, it looks as though President Trump will not heed their advice. If the president follows through on his threats, America will break an agreement with Iran despite their having fully complied with all stipulations.

It would also severely harm our relationships with long-standing allies because the Iran nuclear deal does not just exist between America and Iran. While the United States led negotiations, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China and Germany are all members of this agreement and declared they will remain in the deal even if the United States doesn’t.

Decertification will, in effect, send a message to these countries that America is no longer the leading country it once was, which will open up a power vacuum that countries like Russia and China will be eager to fill.

It is the responsibility of every official in New Hampshire to speak up and urge President Trump to maintain his role in this deal, including Gov. Chris Sununu, who has largely refrained from criticizing the president.

It is imperative that we convince the president to continue America’s commitment to diplomacy and a non-nuclear Iran by remaining in the Iran nuclear deal.

(Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Penacook serves as the House Democratic leader and represents Merrimack 11.)