UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Ex-UN Envoy: Nuclear Pact Decertification Opens Door to 'Dealing With Iran's Behavior'

By VOA News October 25, 2017

A former United States ambassador to the United Nations chided lawmakers Wednesday for engaging in a "little bit of a fake debate" surrounding President Donald Trump's decision not to certify Iran's compliance with an international nuclear accord.

During testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Mark Wallace, former ambassador to the U.N., representative for U.N. management and reform, who now heads the activist group United Against Nuclear Iran, said the decision by the Trump administration will now allow the U.S. government to deal with issues left out of the agreement.

"The sky didn't fall with certification or not certification," he told lawmakers. "Now we have to deal with Iran's behavior, as Iran and our government did not want to include a variety of issues in its negotiations in the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], it carved out everything from missiles to terrorism to human rights, let's now readdress those."

Wallace said it is important to respect the deal already in place, but the decertification will give U.S. diplomats the ability to exert increased leverage over Iran, including the implementation of economic sanctions.

"We have to push Iran , and we have to use our economic pressure to do that, and it's worked in the past, it can work again, but it requires a bipartisan consensus, and this committee has always been able to do that," he said.

Debate is intensifying in Washington on the merits and potential pitfalls of a possible U.S. exit from the international nuclear accord with Iran. Support for the deal on Capitol Hill is largely split down partisan lines, with Republicans calling for a withdrawal from the deal and Democrats warning of the international fallout such a move might cause.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham on earlier this week echoed past comments from Trump, calling the agreement "one of the worst deals I have ever seen" and calling for it to either be changed or torn up.

Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine, who lost to Trump as a vice presidential candidate in the 2016 election, said pulling out of the deal would "weaken diplomacy" and "raise the risk of unnecessary war."

"We have given the power to the president to impose more sanctions on Iran for bellicose behavior, for activities in other countries, for violations of human rights, for violating U.N. Security Council resolutions on their missile program," Kaine said. "The president should use the sanctions power we just gave him."

Philip Gordon, a former White House director for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region during the Obama administration, told the congressional panel Wednesday any move to re-impose sanctions on Iran "would almost certainly lead to the collapse of the deal."

"It's hard to see how Iran would ever agree to give up now what it would not give up when the international pressure campaign was at its peak," he said.

Under former President Barack Obama, the United States committed to the nuclear accord as an executive agreement that can be revoked, not as a formal treaty binding future administrations. For many Republicans, pulling out would be an appropriate use of President Trump's authority. According to many Democrats, it would be a dangerous mistake.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list