Sen. Bob Corker expects that Trump will withdraw from the nuclear deal in a little under two months:
Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, believes President Trump will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal when the deadline for certification to Congress arrives on May 12. Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan in an interview airing Sunday that the deal “doesn’t feel like it’s going to be extended.”
Trump’s hostility to the nuclear deal is well-known, and it has been pretty clear for the last several months that U.S. withdrawal was just a matter of time. Now that Tillerson is out and McMaster will soon follow him, there will be fewer people in the administration arguing for keeping the nuclear deal and more vocal advocates for scrapping it. Ever since the president delivered his ridiculous ultimatum to our allies earlier this year, the intention to renege on the agreement has been impossible to miss. In that sense, Corker isn’t telling us anything that we didn’t already know, but his remarks give us additional confirmation that Trump intends to follow through on his public threats.
It is important to remember that the nuclear deal has been entirely successful in restricting Iran’s nuclear program and subjecting it to one of the most intrusive inspection regimes in the world. The JCPOA is the most significant nonproliferation agreement negotiated in decades, and it is a major victory for U.S. diplomacy. Throwing that away is a colossal blunder and will stand out as one of the most pointlessly destructive foreign policy decisions of this administration. When Trump reneges on that deal, the agreement will very likely collapse, and the responsibility for that collapse will lie solely with the president and his allies. Iran hawks will desperately try to pin the blame on European allies or Iran or anyone other than the Trump administration, but everyone else understands that the JCPOA would not be in danger if the president and his hawkish supporters didn’t want it dead. Trump and his hawkish allies will own the aftermath of this decision.
Corker also made the following statement about the implications of reneging on the deal for diplomacy with North Korea:
But Corker said he doesn’t think backing out of the Iran deal will impact any negotiations with North Korea. Mr. Trump has said he intends to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by the end of May.
“I don’t,” Corker said, asked about any relationship between backing out of the Iran deal and talking with North Korea. “Look, I have used that argument, OK? But at the end of the day I think this whole situation with North Korea and the way that it’s shaping up right now is, as I mentioned, is somewhat unorthodox, and I think you’re dealing with a leader there that probably doesn’t think the same way that other countries and their leadership might [bold mine-DL]. So I’m not sure that it’s going to end up having a detrimental effect.”
If I understand Corker’s point, he is saying that North Korea’s leadership is different enough from others that they won’t take American withdrawal from the nuclear deal as a sign that the U.S. can’t be trusted. There is no reason to think this, and as far as I can tell this is simply wishful thinking on the part of some nuclear deal opponents that reneging won’t sabotage diplomacy with North Korea. If anything, a paranoid authoritarian regime that assumes the worst about U.S. intentions would be more likely to judge U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA more harshly than others. It is much more likely that Kim would feel vindicated in North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons when he sees the U.S. refuses to honor its commitments to Iran, and he is even less likely than before to make meaningful concessions.