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Trump Trashes Iran Deal to Satisfy Netanyahu

President Donald Trump’s new Iran policy clearly represents a dangerous rejection of diplomacy in favor of confrontation. But it’s more than that: It’s a major shift toward a much closer alignment of U.S. policy with that of the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Whether explicitly or not, Trump’s vow to work with Congress to renegotiate the Iran nuclear agreement, and his explicit threat to withdraw from the deal if no renegotiation takes place, appear to be satisfying the hardline demands Netanyahu has made of Washington’s policy toward Tehran.

Specifically, Netanyahu has continued to demand that Trump either withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or make far-reaching changes that he knows are impossible to achieve. In his September 17 speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu declared, “Israel’s policy toward the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it.” And he made no secret of what that meant: If Trump doesn’t “cancel” the deal, he must get rid of [1] its “sunset clause” and demand [2] that Iran end its advanced centrifuges and long-range missile program, among other fundamentally unattainable objectives.

Trump’s statement last Friday [3] managed to include both of the either/or choices that Netanyahu had given him. He warned that, if Congress and America’s European allies do not agree on a plan to revise the deal, “then the agreement will be terminated.” He added that the agreement “is under continuous review,” and our participation “can be canceled by me, as president at any time.”


One provision the administration wants Congress to put into amended legislation would allow sanctions to be imposed if Iran crosses certain “trigger points,” which would include not only nuclear issues but the Israeli demand that Iran stop its long-range missile program. Ballistic missiles were never included in the JCPOA negotiations for an obvious reason: Iran has the same right to develop ballistic missiles as any other independent state, and it firmly rejected pro forma demands by the Barack Obama administration to include the issue in negotiations.

Trump went a long way towards Netanyahu’s “cancel” option by refusing last week to certify that Iran was keeping up its end of the JPCOA. That move signaled his intention to scrap the central compromise on which the entire agreement rests.

Although the Middle East is very different today than during the George W. Bush administration, some parallels can be found in comparing Trump’s policy toward the JCPOA and Bush’s policy toward Iran during the early phase of its uranium enrichment program.

The key figures who had primary influence on both Trump’s and Bush’s Iran policies held views close to those of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party. The main conduit for the Likudist line in the Trump White House is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, primary foreign policy advisor, and longtime friend and supporter [4] of Netanyahu. Kushner’s parents are also long-time supporters of Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank. [5]

Another figure to whom the Trump White House has turned is John Bolton, undersecretary of state and a key policymaker on Iran in the Bush administration. Although Bolton was not appointed Trump’s secretary of state, as he’d hoped, he suddenly reemerged as a player on Iran policy thanks to his relationship with Kushner. Politico reports [6] that Bolton met with Kushner a few days before the final policy statement was released and urged a complete withdrawal from the deal in favor of his own plan for containing Iran.

Bolton spoke with Trump by phone on Thursday about the paragraph in the deal that vowed it would be “terminated” if there was any renegotiation, according to Politico [6]. He was calling Trump from Las Vegas, where he’d been meeting with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third major figure behind Trump’s shift towards Israeli issues. Adelson is a Likud supporter who has long been a close friend of Netanyahu’s and has used his Israeli tabloid newspaper Israel Hayom to support Netanyahu’s campaigns [7]. He was Trump’s main campaign contributor [8] in 2016, donating $100 million. Adelson’s real interest has been in supporting Israel’s interests in Washington [9]—especially with regard to Iran.

In a public appearance in Israel in 2013, when Adelson was asked about his view on negotiating with Tehran, he suggested [10] dropping a nuclear weapon on a desert in Iran and then saying to the Iranians, “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development….”

The Likud Party policy preferences on Iran dominated the Bush administration in large part because of the influence of David Wurmser, a Likudist who was a Middle East advisor first to Bolton and later to Vice President Dick Cheney. Wurmser was a co-author, with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, of A Clean Break [11], the 1996 paper that advised Netanyahu to carry out military strikes against Syria and Iran and to remove the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Wurmser convinced Cheney that the administration should seek a pretext for attacking Iran.

But it was Bolton who worked with Israeli officials to plan a campaign to convince the world that Iran was secretly working on nuclear weapons. His goal was to sell key European nations on a UN Security Council resolution accusing Iran of developing a nuclear program. Bolton explains in his memoirs that the assumption of his strategy was that either the Security Council would strip Iran of its right to have a nuclear program or the United States would take unilateral military action.

In the summer of 2004, a large collection of documents allegedly from a covert Iranian nuclear weapons research program was suddenly obtained by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. Those documents became the sole alleged evidence that such a program existed. But this writer found more than one telltale sign of fraud in the papers [12], and a former senior German foreign office official told me on the record in March 2013 that the source who passed on the documents was a member of the Mujihadeen e-Khalq (MEK), the armed Iranian opposition group. The MEK has allegedly worked with Israel’s Mossad [13] for some time.

Neither the Bush administration nor the Trump administration viewed the alleged danger of nuclear proliferation by Iran as the priority problem per se; it was rather an issue to be exploited to weaken the Islamic regime and ultimately achieve regime change. Hilary Mann Leverett, the NSC coordinator in the Persian Gulf from 2001-03, told this writer in a 2013 interview that Wurmser and other Cheney advisors were convinced that the student protests of 1999 indicated that Iranians were ready to overthrow the Islamic Republic. In his statement last week, Trump blamed Obama [3] for having lifted nuclear sanctions on Iran “just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime.”

After Netanyahu became Israeli prime minister in early 2009, his administration worked assiduously for four years to maneuver the Obama administration into giving Iran an ultimatum over its enrichment program. Obama rejected such a proposal, but Bolton has repeated his call for the United States to bomb Iran [14] year after year.

Now the Trump administration is playing out a new chapter in the drama of the Likudists and their patrons in Washington. Their objective is nothing less than using U.S. power to weaken Iran through military means if possible and economic sanctions if necessary. The remarkable thing is that Trump is cooperating even more eagerly than did Bush.

Gareth Porter is an independent journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of numerous books, including Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare [15]. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter [16]

32 Comments (Open | Close)

32 Comments To "Trump Trashes Iran Deal to Satisfy Netanyahu"

#1 Comment By Looking Forward to 2018 and 2020 On October 19, 2017 @ 10:21 pm

I voted for Trump. And this is exactly what I was voting AGAINST.

#2 Comment By real men On October 19, 2017 @ 10:26 pm

Great. Let’s let the Israelis lie us into another war. “Real men go to Teheran!”


#3 Comment By MEOW On October 19, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

If Trump and his Netanyahu buddies wish to attack Iran I have an idea. With UAL retiring its fleet of 747s – why not fly Don, Jared, Netanyahu and the entire gang of neocons in one (or more) of these 747s and drop them off over Tehran to sort things out themselves. I doubt there will be a long line of non-neocons volunteering life and limb just to satisfy an insatiable need of our so-called indispensable ally to subjugate others using America as their attack dog. If you want something done, do it yourself. I guess there are exceptions?

#4 Comment By Whine Merchant On October 20, 2017 @ 12:51 am

Regrettably, I fear we will yet again see who really runs the show in Washington: AIPAC.

This multi-generational obeyance of the Israeli right wing has contributed more to the loss of US leadership [and rise of Chinese influence] in the world than anything since Vietnam. Shilling for the Likud and engaging in tragic wars in that part of the world have made America and Americans more unsafe than anything Washington will ever admit.

#5 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 20, 2017 @ 3:41 am

My initial comment is simply, I appreciate the volume of information, but I am unclear how this article is less damning than the article written by Phillip Giraldi on the “too close for comfort’ relationship that the US gas with Israel and Israeli supporters.

Certainly , Israel has a right to exist. And the think the Turing point is the correct assessment that we cannot prevent Iran from self defense anymore than we can prevent Israel nor should we and that includes missiles for self defense.

Now if Israel is afraid , then he will have to engage Iran directly as states in conflict engage one another and reach agreements. A responsible ally is not going to constantly require US support , nor is that ally going to engage in violating international law needlessly exacerbating tension point, such as expanding settlements and taking advantage of US hospitality by doing so.

For those people in positions of influence, and claim to e christians, do be mindful, that there are consequences for abusing scripture in ways, scripture does not intend. There is no mandate for christian to hasten the second coming and all that is said to befall the earth, including Armageddon — one’ zeal should not turn truth on it head — that’s hypocrisy.

#6 Comment By mohammad On October 20, 2017 @ 6:55 am

Is the USA the only superpower in history which behaves like a slave, and an obedient one in that, towards one of its clients? I cannot think of any other!

#7 Comment By EarlyBird On October 20, 2017 @ 11:30 am

Uhhh…“America First!” (except when it comes to Middle East policy).

#8 Comment By Dustin On October 20, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

It amazes me that so many Americans agree that the U.S. shouldn’t follow the directions of Isreal and yet we continue to do so at the price of our blood. We are so stupid.

#9 Comment By O’Neill On October 20, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

So if this is further proof (and it is) in Israeli efforts to use us (America) as a tool for their political and military needs, how is that what Phillip Giraldi wrote is at all a problem and worth kicking him out of TAC? Because he went a step further and made the connection that Israeli’s and their most ardent American supporters who agitate for endless war are Jews? Seems to me TAC caved in to external pressure, which is beyond pathetic. Bring back your best contributor.

#10 Comment By Lenny On October 20, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

Looking Forward to 2018 and 2020 says:
October 19, 2017 at 10:21 pm
I voted for Trump. And this is exactly what I was voting AGAINST.

This is funny. I recall Trump promising he will do exactly what he just did,
Which TV did you watch?

#11 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 20, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

“This is funny. I recall Trump promising he will do exactly what he just did,
Which TV did you watch?”

No He did not. He constantly aid it was a bad deal. He made no commitment to decertify. He rope straddled. Seem odd to renege on a deal that our allies will mt likely support regardless, unofficially or officially.

It will be interesting to see what Congress does, if anything. As for war in the region — doubtful.

#12 Comment By same ole same ole On October 20, 2017 @ 9:59 pm

“Now the Trump administration is playing out a new chapter in the drama of the Likudists and their patrons in Washington.”

It’s a measure of how much swamp gas infuses the US – Israel relationship that it’s almost impossible to tell who the “patrons” are.

Are you quite sure that the patrons are in Washington?

I’m not.

“This is funny. I recall Trump promising he will do exactly what he just did,
Which TV did you watch?”

I watched the TV where he said he was going to cancel bad deals with foreign parasites.

The deal we have with Israel is almost certainly the worst deal we ever made, and Israel is unquestionably our biggest parasite. It’s nine months into his presidency, and the Israelis are still sitting there snickering, watching us fight their enemies for them for free, and Trump’s still doing what Israel wants and sending them giant welfare checks for doing nothing.

#13 Comment By Stephen On October 21, 2017 @ 12:48 am

This article is enlightening, and so depressing. I too thought I voted for the non-interventionist. Regarding the seeming inevitable destruction of Iran, so long dreamed of by Iran Hawks, I do see one possible way they can fail, and that is if the European states who usually back us on our Israel-driven aggressive interventions don’t go along with us. Going back as far as the first Iraq war with Bush senior, we always approach these things with a “coalition”, a phoney tactic to hide the truth of our naked aggression. Anyway, I think Europe is tired of supporting all of this criminal destruction. Without the appearance of a coalition backing us, the US will not be able to bomb Iran. Additionally, the American people are no longer so easy a sale either, remember how the Obama administration was unable to sell the public on bombing Syria.

#14 Comment By Looking Forward to 2018 and 2020 On October 21, 2017 @ 10:20 am

@Lenny – “This is funny. I recall Trump promising he will do exactly what he just did,
Which TV did you watch?”

Yes, I knew he was going to end the bad Iran deal, but I never saw why we should have any role in that deal to begin with.

But I thought he was going end the bad deal with Israel too. Instead he’s keeping the worst deal we ever made.

Thousands of dead American soldiers, hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars down the Israel rathole, trillions more blown on Israel-related wars, a wrecked Middle East.

I don’t know what more evidence he needs: it’s time to cut Israel loose and get out of there. It’s also time to vigorously enforce espionage and foreign corruption laws against the Americans that Israel uses to meddle in US politics. That’s what “America First” means to me.

The Trump I voted for would have already started doing this. Instead Trump’s doing a lot of meaningless “tweeting” while the same old GOP neocon / establishment policies continue: more giant deficits, more of our elected officials doing Israel’s bidding and sending Israel giant piles of cash, more Middle East wars, now spreading to N. Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Nobody who voted for Trump consciously voted for that. And don’t pretend they did.

#15 Comment By jk On October 21, 2017 @ 2:30 pm

Why are Israel and S.A. exempt from being investigated for foreign interference in US affairs and politics and elections?

At least (currently) Trump is not as destructive as the idiot that shattered the Middle East and who is responsible for the wars the US fought and 500,000+ dead, misplaced Iraqis.

#16 Comment By wm garrison On October 22, 2017 @ 10:31 am

If one votes for a fool this is what you get.
Why don’t we cut off all aid to Israel ,until they disclose an destroy all their own atomic

#17 Comment By tx nonplussed On October 22, 2017 @ 3:26 pm

Let’s say you’re a 8th generation American living in Texas who got wiped out by Hurricane Harvey, if you want to get aid from the state in which you were born and to which you’ve paid taxes all your life, you have to affirm the following:

11. Verification not to Boycott Israel. By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement

I don’t know what kind of human filth and traitor proposed this profoundly un-American law, but they need to be found and kicked out of our government.

I loathe Israel for the way it spies on us, rips us off, and drags us into its messes, and I boycott it for that reason. You’re telling me I can’t get hurricane relief because of that? What, do the Israelis own the whole US government now?

#18 Comment By Brendan Sexton On October 22, 2017 @ 6:01 pm

Lenny is correct: candidate Trump made it very clear that he was going to damage or if he could, destroy the Iran deal, and that he was doing this for Bibi. If one reeeeealllly is just learning this, than one is a part of the hysterical blindness, wilfully self-imposed that the left has been accusing Trump supporters of all this time.
Does “Looking Forward to 2018 and 2020” actually treat Fox as a news source? Does she or he not read the news at all?
What explains this insistence on being as ignorant as possible, just to preserve one’s sense of pride in Trump? It boggles my beleaguered mind.

#19 Comment By Z-man On October 22, 2017 @ 11:28 pm

I’m still hoping Trump has an ulterior plan here but his virulent hatred for the Iran deal is troubling. His son in law has got to go! That would make me feel a little better.

#20 Comment By Dee On October 23, 2017 @ 3:13 pm

I am not Jewish, and most of the Jewish people I know (like 90%) in the US want a 2-state peaceful solution.. The crazy coalition of AIPAC, Evangelical christians who believe biblical prophesies will happen if Israel is destroyed, and the military manufacturers who reap money from always war benefit.. But its mostly about the money, and the politicians here who can be bought.

#21 Comment By someone shoot me On October 23, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

Democracy is great. Choose whichever war monger you like. We the people. Hurrah.

#22 Comment By Mike Schilling On October 23, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

The Right has hated the Iran deal from the beginning. You don’t need to invoke Israel and Teh Jews to explain why Trump wants to dismantle it.

#23 Comment By george Archers On October 23, 2017 @ 4:21 pm

“Certainly , Israel has a right to exist.” Says you!
British occupied Palestine and allowed non Semites to settle and oust the inhabitants. Not one Israel citizen belongs here–stolen land U dummy!

#24 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 23, 2017 @ 4:59 pm

” . . . and sending Israel giant piles of cash, more Middle East wars, now spreading to N. Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

Nobody who voted for Trump consciously voted for that. And don’t pretend they did.”

I would agree with this to a point. i fully expected that there would be some level of force agreements. What do not expect or appreciate is what appears to be cowardice on the issues he campaigned on. I knew he would shift as to situation, but to completely turn his back on the policies I supported him to endorse —

I knew he attitudes about color but that weighed tat against the overall benefit of a domestic policy. But color i not my primary concern. Despite the trite and predictable use to bolster political status, that is not new or old in the history of US polity.

I stand by my vote, and my support. We are jut a year in and none of the catastrophic predictions have occurred. I doubt they will. Looking ahead still holds plenty of mystery.

I did nit expect that or maybe I hoped he’d have a much better backbone.

#25 Comment By William On October 23, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

I certainly agree with many of the comments here, especially with Whinemerchant. Americans will never know the truth about what is going on because there is no U.S. media to tell them.
All we have in America is print and electronic media owned or controlled by ardent, passionate
supporters of Israel.

#26 Comment By pensword On October 23, 2017 @ 8:07 pm

Encouraged by the comments here. May they become manifest in shaking loose the unbearable yoke of fealty to zionism.

#27 Comment By Dr.Joji Cherian On October 23, 2017 @ 10:19 pm

America is damned.It is merely a colony or slave yard owned by Israel.Americans are destined live work fight and die for Israel.

#28 Comment By Eileen Kuch On October 23, 2017 @ 10:32 pm

I also voted for Trump and certainly this isn’t what I expected. President Trump, dump that demon before he destroys you. You’re much better than that, being his poodle.

#29 Comment By Minnesota Mary On October 23, 2017 @ 10:42 pm

Since the Iran deal that Obama signed can be abrogated by Trump, could Trump’s $3.8 billion dollar per year aid package to Israel be cancelled by a future president? I sure hope so.

#30 Comment By Edward Huguenin On October 24, 2017 @ 2:05 pm

It is a sad and bitter irony indeed that perhaps the most dangerous, vicious, evil and vile criminal leader in the Middle East wasn’t from Iraq, or Libya, but in fact from Israel. Clearly so much of the violence and hatred and terrorism is a direct result of the crimes and atrocities committed by Israel. It would have been far better to have removed the nuclear weapons from Israel in 2001 and forced Israel back to the Pre1967 borders as mandated by international law instead of destroying 2/3’s of the entire Middle East killing millions, turning 10’s of millions into refugees, reducing entire cities to rubble, spending more than 7 Trillion dollars. The world in general and America in particular would have become a far better place than it is today.

#31 Comment By JOHN CHUCKMAN On October 25, 2017 @ 9:33 am

“Trump Trashes Iran Deal to Satisfy Netanyahu’

I really do not think anyone needs to be told that.

It is a good measure of what a truly cowardly figure Trump has proved to be.

Instead of the true long-term interests of the country he was elected to lead, he goes against the testimony and concerns of every statesman and nuclear expert in the world.

And he has the biggest loud-mouthed hack ever to represent the United States in the UN, Nikki Haley, regularly sounding as though she represented Israel rather than the US.

Of course, in that as in almost her every word about anything, she sounds like a lunatic to most of the planet.

The true measure of cowardice in my view is a leader failing to stand up to unfair and dangerous demands from special interests.

But that is exactly what Trump has done, just as he has folded vis-a-vis the Washington establishment and the CIA.

A true coward, that’s our Trump.

Of course, the really dangerous thing is that he likely knows this in his own heart of hearts.

And that may drive him to proving what a “tough guy” he is in other spheres, such as North Korea.

#32 Comment By harry moldovan On October 27, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

Remember,if you don’t like Israel and Israelis-you people made them that way with 2000 years of Christian love and Islamic Dhimitude. By any means necessary