President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, on Tuesday afternoon. Both praise and criticism came swiftly.
Ben Rhodes, the master of President Barack Obama’s media “echo chamber” and a key player in the deal, was predictably unhappy with the decision:
Beyond the potentially catastrophic consequences with Iran, Trump's decision is devastating to U.S. credibility globally. After this, why would anyone trust an international agreement that the U.S. negotiates?
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) May 8, 2018
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) made a key point about how the nuclear deal gave Iran the resources it needed to cause mischief across the Middle East, and predicted today’s announcement would immediately begin restraining Iran even though it will take some time for all of the provisions to go into effect:
Ignored in much of the analysis on the #IranDeal is the fact that it freed them up to grow more dangerous in the Middle-East. Since deal they increased control over Syria, grew influence in Iraq, sponsored civil war in Yemen, exploited the Gulf divide & expanded Hezbollah’s reach
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 8, 2018
The wind-down periods of 90 & 180 days on #IranDeal is not “buying time”. Some of the business deals with Iran are complicated & will take time for Treasury to re-impose sanctions. Todays announcement will have an IMMEDIATE chilling effect on lucrative deals with Iranian regime.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 8, 2018
Democratic leaders in Congress were displeased by the decision. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) warned that “breaking this deal increases the danger that Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program, which threatens our ally, Israel, and destabilizes the entire Middle East.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the decision to withdraw is “dangerous and impulsive,” and Tuesday marked “a sad day for America’s global leadership.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer complained that the Trump administration does not “have a real plan here” for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, and said he “didn’t get good answers” when he asked Vice President Mike Pence to outline the next steps. Schumer also insisted there is no evidence that Iran has violated the terms of the deal.
From the other side of the partisan divide, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the JCPOA is a “flawed deal and we can do better,” while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed that President Trump made “a strong statement that we can and must do better.”
“I have always believed the best course of action is to fix the deficiencies in the agreement. It is unfortunate that we could not reach an understanding with our European partners on a way to do that, but I am grateful to them for working with the United States toward that goal,” Ryan added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose presentation of intelligence on Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program was cited by President Trump in his announcement, said that Israel “fully supports President Trump’s courageous decision and leadership.”
Saudi Arabia welcomed Trump’s decision. “Iran used economic gains from the lifting of sanctions to continue its activities to destabilize the region, particularly by developing ballistic missiles and supporting terrorist groups in the region,” said a statement carried on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV.
French President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, said that France, Germany, and the United Kingdom “regret the U.S. decision” to exit the JCPOA:
France, Germany, and the UK regret the U.S. decision to leave the JCPOA. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is at stake.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 8, 2018
“The nuclear deal with Iran is crucial for the security of the region, of Europe and of the entire world,” said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who oversaw implementation of the JCPOA in 2015. She said European nations would work to keep the deal alive and implied Iran not to “let anyone dismantle this agreement.”
European Union President Donald Tusk’s reaction sounded confrontational:
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) May 8, 2018
“The president absolutely made the right decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal,” said U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. “This was a terrible deal that only allowed Iran’s bad international conduct to worsen. We must never allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, and we must resist their support for terrorism that continues to threaten America and our allies.”
Mitt Romney, President Obama’s opponent in the 2012 election and a frequent critic of President Trump, was very supportive of Trump’s decision.
“The Iran Nuclear Deal was a bad deal,” said Romney. “Nothing short of a permanent elimination of Iran’s nuclear weapon program is acceptable.”
“President Trump’s action is aimed at pressing Iran in order to achieve that objective. Its effectiveness will depend in large measure on the cooperative action of our allies and the impact of new sanctions,” Romney added.
The stock market was “all over the map” after Trump’s announcement, as The Street put it, perhaps because investors have a great deal on their minds besides the fate of the nuclear deal.