September 21, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Dear President Trump:
We are writing to you as national security experts, many who worked in the nuclear weapons, arms control, nonproliferation and intelligence fields, to express our strong opposition to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) and to ask that you withdraw the United States from this dangerous agreement as soon as possible.
We also call on your administration to declare to Congress next month that Iran has not been complying with this agreement and that it is not in the national security interests of the United States.
We strongly supported your statements during the 2016 presidential campaign that the JCPOA was one of the worst international agreements ever negotiated and as president that you would either withdraw from or renegotiate this deal. Your campaign statements accurately reflected that the JCPOA is a fraud since it allows Iran to continue its nuclear weapons program while the agreement is in effect by permitting it to enrich uranium, operate and develop advanced uranium centrifuges and operate a heavy-water reactor. Such limited restrictions as the deal actually imposes on Iran’s enrichment program will expire in eight years. In addition, the JCPOA’s inspection provisions are wholly inadequate.
We also note that a joint July 11, 2017 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from Senators Cruz, Rubio, Cotton and Perdue outlined significant violations of the JCPOA by Iran, the most important of which is Iran’s refusal to permit IAEA inspections of military facilities.
In addition, although the JCPOA did not require Iran to halt its belligerent and destabilizing behavior, President Obama and Secretary Kerry repeatedly claimed it would lead to an improvement. This has not happened. To the contrary, after the JCPOA, Iran’s behavior has significantly worsened. Tehran stepped up its ballistic missile program and missile launches. There was a 90% increase in Iran’s 2016-2017 military budget. Iran has increased its support to terrorist groups and sent troops into Syria. Harassment of shipping in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea also increased, including missiles fired at U.S. and Gulf state ships by the Houthi rebels, an Iranian proxy in Yemen.
Moreover, in light of major advances in North Korea’s nuclear program, we are very concerned that North Korea and Iran are actively sharing nuclear weapons technology and that Iran is providing funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. CIA Director Mike Pompeo suggested this possibility during a September 11 Fox News interview.
We are unconvinced by doom-and-gloom predictions of the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. The sky did not fall when you withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Claims that Iran will step up its nuclear program or engage in more belligerent behavior must be considered against the backdrop of what Iran is allowed to do under the JCPOA and its actual conduct since this “political understanding” was announced.
Some Iran deal advocates argue that the United States should remain in the JCPOA and instead try to amend it to fix its flaws over several years. A few contend you could decertify the agreement to Congress, but remain in the deal and then try to amend it. Since Iran has made it clear it will not agree to changes to the JCPOA, we believe these proposals are unrealistic. Continuing to legitimate the agreement is not conducive to its renegotiation. The day will never come when the mullahs agree to amend the sweetheart deal they got in the JCPOA.
Ambassador John Bolton has drawn up a plan to implement a far more effective, comprehensive and multilateral approach to address the threat from Iran. This approach includes strict new sanctions to bar permanently the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran. He also calls for new sanctions in response to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and efforts to destabilize the Middle East, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Unlike the JCPOA, which was negotiated with no input from America’s allies in the Middle East, Ambassador Bolton outlines a multilateral campaign to forge a new comprehensive approach to the threat from Iran that includes the Gulf States and Israel to assure that their security interests are taken into account.
We agree with Ambassador John Bolton that strong international sanctions, a tough negotiating strategy and a decisive American president who will not engage in appeasement is the best approach to rein in Iran’s belligerent behavior and induce it to joining negotiations on a better agreement.
As national security experts who understand the urgency of addressing the growing threat from Iran, we urge you to implement the Bolton plan, withdraw from the dangerous Iran nuclear deal and not certify Iranian compliance to Congress next month. It is time to move beyond President Obama’s appeasement of Iran and to begin work on a comprehensive new approach that fully addresses the menace that the Iranian regime increasingly poses to American and international security.
ATTACHMENT: “Abrogating The Iran Deal: The Way Forward” By Ambassador John Bolton
Winston Lewis Amselem
U.S. Foreign Service Officer, Minister-Counselor (Ret.)
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, USA (Ret.)
Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
Ambassador Henry F. Cooper
Former Chief U.S. Negotiator for Defense and Space and SDI Director
Former Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence analyst
Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction and Negotiations Policy
Paula A. DeSutter
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance
Joseph E. diGenova
Former U.S. Attorney District of Columbia
Jessie Jane Duff
Gunnery Sergeant USMC (Ret.)
Senior Fellow London Center for Policy Research
Dr. Manfred Eimer
Former Assistant Director for Verification and Intelligence, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Retired CIA officer. Former chairman of the National Intelligence Council
Douglas J. Feith
Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Former CIA analyst and Professional Staff Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Kevin D. Freeman, National Security Investment Counsel Institute
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting)
Daniel J. Gallington
Former General Counsel, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Member, U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear & Space Talks
D. Scott George
Brigadier General, USAF (Ret.). President/CEO, IN-Cyber Vision, Inc.
Dr. William R. Graham
Former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Science Advisor to the President; NASA Administrator and Chairman of the General Advisory Committee (GAC) on Arms Control and Disarmament
Larry K. Grundhauser
Brigadier General, USAF Retired; Former Director of Intelligence, HQ Air Combat Command; Former Vice Director for Intelligence; Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Former Arms Control Policy Advisor US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Department of Homeland Security founding staff member and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer
George William Heiser II
Former Director for Arms Control, Reagan National Security Council Staff
Richard T. Higgins
Former Director for Strategic Planning, Trump National Security Council
President, GeoStrategic Analysis, Former Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior for International Energy Security
Ambassador Eric M. Javits
Former US Permanent Representative and Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament and to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Ambassador Robert G. Joseph
Former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Assistant to the President on Arms Control and Nonproliferation; and Chairman of the ABM Treaty Standing Consultative Commission
Morton A. Klein
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President
Dr. Charles M. Kupperman
Former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan; former Executive Director, General Advisory Committee to the President on Arms Control and Disarmament
Herbert I. London
President, London Center for Policy Research
Former CIA Officer
Robert L. Luaces
Foreign Service Officer (Ret.). Former Director, State Department Office of Multilateral Nuclear and Security Affairs
Admiral James A. Lyons
U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Commander-in Chief, Pacific Fleet
Lt. Gen Thomas McInerney, US Air Force (Ret.)
Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force and Director of the Defense Performance Review
Vice Admiral Robert R. Monroe, U.S. Navy (Ret.). Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency
Co-Director of Government Relations, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)
Michael Pregent, Director of Veterans Against the Iran Deal
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry
Executive Director, Task Force on National and Homeland Security; Senior Staff on the
Congressional EMP Commission, Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA
Editor of ConservativeHQ and consultant
Major General Edward M. Reeder
U.S. Army (Ret.)
Ambassador C. Paul Robinson
Former President and Director of Sandia National Laboratories. Head of the Nuclear Weapons and National Security programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Chief Negotiator and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the U.S./Soviet Union Nuclear Testing Talks
Founder and President, Gatestone Institute
Senior analyst, National Institute for Public Policy. Former Senior Director for Forces Policy and Principal Director for Strategic Defense, Space and Verification Policy, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Former Senior Foreign Service Officer.
Tony Shaffer, LTC (ret)
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Operations, London Center for Policy Research. Former CIA-trained senior intelligence operative
Founder and President, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Kenneth R. Timmerman
President and CEO, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
Former Chief Counsel, Senate Intelligence Committee
General Counsel and Legislative Affairs Director, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
J. Michael Waller
Founding Editorial Board Member, NATO Defence Strategic Communications
Former Senior Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney
ABROGATING THE IRAN DEAL: THE WAY FORWARD
By Ambassador John Bolton
The Trump Administration is required to certify to Congress every 90 days that Iran is complying with the July 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — JCPOA), and that this agreement is in the national-security interest of the United States.1 While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently underway, America’s Iran policy should not be frozen. The JCPOA is a threat to U.S. national-security interests, growing more serious by the day. If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the President must certify every 90 days that:
(i) Iran is transparently, verifiably, and fully implementing the agreement, including all related technical or additional agreements;
(ii) Iran has not committed a material breach with respect to the agreement or, if Iran has committed a material breach, Iran has cured the material breach;
(iii) Iran has not taken any action, including covert activities, that could significantly advance its nuclear weapons program; and
(iv) Suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the agreement is –
(I) appropriate and proportionate to the specific and verifiable measures taken by Iran with respect to terminating its illicit nuclear program; and
(II) vital to the national-security interests of the United States.
U.S. leadership here is critical, especially through a diplomatic and public education effort to explain a decision not to certify and to abrogate the JCPOA. Like any global campaign, it must be persuasive, thorough, and accurate. Opponents, particularly those who participated in drafting and implementing the JCPOA, will argue strongly against such a decision, contending that it is reckless, ill-advised, and will have negative economic and security consequences.
Accordingly, we must explain the grave threat to the U.S. and our allies, particularly Israel. The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed, increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security interests of the United States. We can bolster the case for abrogation by providing new, declassified information on Iran’s unacceptable behavior around the world.
But as with prior Presidential decisions, such as withdrawing from the 1972 ABM Treaty, a new “reality” will be created. We will need to assure the international community that the U.S. decision will in fact enhance international peace and security, unlike the JCPOA, the provisions of which shield Iran’s ongoing efforts to develop deliverable nuclear weapons. The Administration should announce that it is abrogating the JCPOA due to significant Iranian violations, Iran’s unacceptable international conduct more broadly, and because the JCPOA threatens American national-security interests.
The Administration’s explanation in a “white paper” should stress the many dangerous concessions made to reach this deal, such as allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium; allowing Iran to operate a heavy-water reactor; and allowing Iran to operate and develop advanced centrifuges while the JCPOA is in effect. Utterly inadequate verification and enforcement mechanisms and Iran’s refusal to allow inspections of military sites also provide important reasons for the Administration’s decision.
Even the previous Administration knew the JCPOA was so disadvantageous to the United States that it feared to submit the agreement for Senate ratification. Moreover, key American allies in the Middle East directly affected by this agreement, especially Israel and the Gulf states, did not have their legitimate interests adequately taken into account. The explanation must also demonstrate the linkage between Iran and North Korea.
We must also highlight Iran’s unacceptable behavior, such as its role as the world’s central banker for international terrorism, including its directions and control over Hezbollah and its actions in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The reasons Ronald Reagan named Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 remain fully applicable today.
II.Campaign Plan Components
There are four basic elements to the development and implementation of the campaign plan to decertify and abrogate the Iran nuclear deal:
1. Early, quiet consultations with key players such as the U.K., France, Germany,Israel, and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.
2. Prepare the documented strategic case for withdrawal through a detailed whitepaper (including declassified intelligence as appropriate) explaining why the deal is harmful to U.S. national interests, how Iran has violated it, and why Iran’s behavior more broadly has only worsened since the deal was agreed.
3. A greatly expanded diplomatic campaign should immediately follow theannouncement, especially in Europe and the Middle East, and we should ensure continued emphasis on the Iran threat as a top diplomatic and strategic priority.
4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts to builddomestic and foreign support.
III. Execution Concepts and Tactics
1. Early, quiet consultations with key players
It is critical that a worldwide effort be initiated to inform our allies, partners, and others about Iran’s unacceptable behavior. While this effort could well leak to the press, it is nonetheless critical that we inform and consult with our allies and partners at the earliest possible moment, and, where appropriate, build into our effort their concerns and suggestions.
This quiet effort will articulate the nature and details of the violations and the type of relationship the U.S. foresees in the future, thereby laying the foundation for imposing new sanctions barring the transfer of nuclear and missile technology or dual use technology to Iran. With Israel and selected others, we will discuss military options. With others in the Gulf region, we can also discuss means to address their concerns from Iran’s menacing behavior.
The advance consultations could begin with private calls by the President, followed by more extensive discussions in capitals by senior Administration envoys. Promptly elaborating a comprehensive tactical diplomatic plan should be a high priority.
2. Prepare the documented strategic case
The White House, coordinating all other relevant Federal agencies, must forcefully articulate the strong case regarding U.S. national-security interests. The effort should produce a “white paper” that will be the starting point for the diplomatic and domestic discussion of the Administration decision to abrogate the JCPOA, and why Iran must be denied access to nuclear technology indefinitely. The white paper should be an unclassified, written statement of the Administration’s case, prepared faultlessly, with scrupulous attention to accuracy and candor. It should not be limited to the inadequacies of the JCPOA as written, or Iran’s violations, but cover the entire range of Iran’s continuing unacceptable international behavior.
Although the white paper will not be issued until the announcement of the decision to abrogate the JCPOA, initiating work on drafting the document is the highest priority, and its completion will dictate the timing of the abrogation announcement.
A thorough review and declassification strategy, including both U.S. and foreign intelligence in our possession should be initiated to ensure that the public has as much information as possible about Iranian behavior that is currently classified, consistent with protecting intelligence sources and methods. We should be prepared to “name names” and expose the underbelly of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard business activities and how they are central to the efforts that undermine American and allied national interests. In particular, we should consider declassifying information related to activities such as the Iran-North Korea partnership, and how they undermine fundamental interests of our allies and partners.
3. Greatly expanded diplomatic campaign post-announcement
The Administration, through the NSC process, should develop a tactical plan that uses all available diplomatic tools to build support for our decision, including what actions we recommend other countries to take. But America must provide the leadership. It will take substantial time and effort and will require a “full court press” by U.S. embassies worldwide and officials in Washington to drive the process forward. We should ensure that U.S. officials fully understand the decision, and its finality, to help ensure the most positive impact with their interlocutors.
Our embassies worldwide should demarche their host governments with talking points (tailored as may be necessary) and data to explain and justify abrogating JCPOA. We will need parallel efforts at the United Nations and other appropriate multilateral organizations. Our embassies should not limit themselves to delivering the demarche, however, but should undertake extensive public diplomacy as well.
After explaining and justifying the decision to abrogate the deal, the next objective should be to recreate a new counter-proliferation coalition to replace the one squandered by the previous Administration, including our European allies, Israel, and the Gulf states. In that regard, we should solicit suggestions for imposing new sanctions on Iran and other measures in response to its nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, sponsorship of terrorism, and generally belligerent behavior, including its meddling in Iraq and Syria.
Russia and China obviously warrant careful attention in the post-announcement campaign. They could be informed just prior to the public announcement as a courtesy, but should not be part of the pre-announcement diplomatic effort described above. We should welcome their full engagement to eliminate these threats, but we will move ahead with or without them.
Iran is not likely to seek further negotiations once the JCPOA is abrogated, but the Administration may wish to consider rhetorically leaving that possibility open in order to demonstrate Iran’s actual underlying intention to develop deliverable nuclear weapons, an intention that has never flagged.
In preparation for the diplomatic campaign, the NSC interagency process should review U.S. foreign-assistance programs as they might assist our efforts. The DNI should prepare a comprehensive, worldwide list of companies and activities that aid Iran’s terrorist activities.
4. Develop and execute Congressional and public diplomacy efforts
The Administration should have a Capitol Hill plan to inform members of Congress already concerned about Iran, and develop momentum for imposing broad sanctions against Iran, far more comprehensive than the pinprick sanctions favored under prior Administrations. Strong congressional support will be critical. We should be prepared to link Iranian behavior around the world, including its relationship with North Korea, and its terrorist activities. And we should demonstrate the linkage between Iranian behavior and missile proliferation as part of the overall effort that justifies a national-security determination that U.S. interests would not be furthered with the JCPOA.
Unilateral U.S. sanctions should be imposed outside the framework of Security Council Resolution 2231 so that Iran’s defenders cannot water them down; multilateral sanctions from others who support us can follow quickly.
The Administration should also encourage discussions in Congress and in public debate for further steps that might be taken to go beyond the abrogation decision. These further steps, advanced for discussion purposes and to stimulate debate, should collectively demonstrate our resolve to limit Iran’s malicious activities and global adventurism. Some would relate directly to Iran; others would protect our allies and partners more broadly from the nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats, such as providing F-35s to Israel or THAAD resources to Japan. Other actions could include:
· End all landing and docking rights for all Iranian aircraft and ships at key allied ports;
· End all visas for Iranians, including so called “scholarly,” student, sports, or other exchanges;
· Demand payment with a set deadline on outstanding U.S. federal-court judgments against Iran for terrorism, including 9/11;
· Announce U.S. support for the democratic Iranian opposition;
· Expedite delivery of bunker-buster bombs;
· Announce U.S. support for Kurdish national aspirations, including Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Syria;
· Provide assistance to Balochis, Khuzestan Arabs, Kurds, and others — also to internal resistance among labor unions, students, and women’s groups;
· Actively organize opposition to Iranian political objectives in the U.N.
This effort should be the Administration’s highest diplomatic priority, commanding all necessary time, attention, and resources. We can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran. The Administration’s justification of its decision will demonstrate to the world that we understand the threat to our civilization; we must act and encourage others to meet their responsibilities as well.
1. Although this paper will refer to “the JCPOA,” the abrogation decision should also encompass the July 14, 2015, statement by the Security Council’s five permanent members and Germany, attached as Annex B to Security Council Resolution 2231. The JCPOA is attached as Annex A to Resolution 2231.
This article was published by the Center for Security Policy and may be found here.