How Trump Should Renegotiate the
By Joe Lieberman and Mark D.
December 6, 2016
President-elect Donald Trump, we vigorously opposed the Iran nuclear agreement,
so we sympathize with his promise to “dismantle”
it. But we hope that he and his administration will first try to aggressively
enforce and then renegotiate the deal beyond the confines of the nuclear issue
to make it better for us and the world.
such renegotiations begin, the Trump administration could strengthen its hand by
closely consulting with our allies in Iran’s neighborhood — Israel and the
Arab states. They were missing from the group that developed and consented to
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is
formally known. That was wrong, for two main reasons: because the Arab states
and Israel are our allies and the Iranians are not, and because the countries in
the region have the greatest equities at stake and should have a significant
voice in the outcome.
date, the Iranian regime has made clear it has no intent to honor the spirit or
letter of the JCPOA. Iran’s pattern of reckless behavior has accelerated over
the past year. Its anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Arab rhetoric has grown
stronger, and its actions have matched its rhetoric. Last month, 11
Arab states publicly accused Iran before the United Nations of
meddling in their internal affairs. In June, the State Department again designated
Iran the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
American people see clearly what is happening. According to a
recent survey by United Against Nuclear Iran, a large majority
of American registered voters view Iran as the greatest state threat facing the
United States — ahead of North Korea, Russia and China. Only the Islamic State
and al-Qaeda are deemed bigger threats.
With U.S. leadership, the new
coalition could address the policy omissions in the JCPOA by, for example,
securing an agreement with Iran to verifiably curb its regional aggression,
state sponsorship of terrorism and domestic repression of human rights. In
exchange, Iran could be given broad-based sanctions relief and even
normalization of relations.
if Iran refuses, the United States and our allies will have great leverage to
hold Tehran accountable under the existing accord. Iran has already twice
exceeded its allotted limit
for heavy water; it has test-fired multiple ballistic missiles, in
defiance of U.N. Resolution 2231, which endorses the nuclear deal;
to German intelligence estimates, Iran has continued its “illegal
proliferation-sensitive procurement activities” at a “quantitatively high
level.” The United States and its partners have closely adhered to the letter
of the JCPOA; they should demand that Iran do the same.
Trump administration can also designate the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. To date, only its
Force has been labeled as such by the Treasury Department. If
done correctly, such a move could freeze foreign investment in Iran because of
the IRGC’s pervasiveness in the Iranian economy through front companies.
Trump can also support
legislation in Congress punishing sectors of the Iranian economy that support
Iran’s ballistic missile program, and he can propose measures to curb Iranian
access to U.S. dollars.
persuade Iran to abide by both the letter and spirit of the JCPOA, as
Dennis Ross and retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus have argued,
strengthening deterrence will be key. Setting forth a “blunter statement on
the consequences” of continued Iranian intransigence — even in an
authorization for the use of military force in the most dire crisis — might
change Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s calculations.
If Iran does not change course,
the president-elect should make clear he is prepared to impose a new round of
comprehensive secondary sanctions against Iran — and then to walk away, with
cause, from the JCPOA. Then it will be time, as the president-elect has said, to
tear up this agreement.
Such a step-by-step strategy will
make clear that the United States is willing to work with Iran but that there
will be consequences for the Iranians if no diplomatic solution is reached. At
its best, such an approach can be transformational. At the least, it will
rewrite the current nuclear deal, relegating to history a period in which the
great powers legitimized Iran’s rogue nuclear program without asking the
regime to change its radical, terrorist, repressive and expansionist ways.