Washington, DC, May 8, 2018 – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
The decision by President Trump to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal will undermine our national security, increase the prospect of a nuclear Iran or conflict with that nation, and cause other countries to conclude that America does not keep its word. Scuttling an agreement that had halted the Iranian nuclear program and put in place an intrusive regimen of inspections without a credible Plan B is a mistake of historic proportions. The IAEA and our Intelligence Community has repeatedly confirmed that Tehran is in compliance with the deal, and the President takes this action against the appeals of our closest allies, senior members of Congress in both parties, and many of his own advisors. The President’s willingness to shatter the international consensus, forged over years of arduous negotiations, on how to constrain Iran’s nuclear program only makes sense as part of a campaign to erase his predecessor’s legacy, regardless of the consequences to our national security.
When I endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015, I did so fully cognizant of the agreement’s limitations, including the degree to which the restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of uranium decrease over the duration of the deal. But the deal’s virtues always outweighed its shortcomings and, while Tehran could never be trusted, the JCPOA’s provisions were drafted with exactly that premise in mind, putting in place an inspections regime that Secretary Mattis recently described as ‘robust.’ Under monitoring by international inspectors, Iran has eliminated virtually all of its enriched uranium, destroyed the core of its heavy-water reactor, and removed more than 13,000 centrifuges and placed them under international monitoring. All of that hard won process is now in jeopardy.
Iran will be faced with a choice of whether to stay in the deal despite our violation of its terms, or to withdraw and reinstall the centrifuges that have been mothballed since 2015. As we await the Iranian and European response to U.S. withdrawal, there is no question that in taking this action unilaterally, we have isolated ourselves and weakened our credibility on the world stage in a way that will be difficult to repair. Should a subsequent administration seek to achieve a new agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear program, why should other nations assume it will persist beyond the next election?
Nor will the damage be confined to the Middle East alone. The Administration’s ability to secure a comprehensive and workable deal with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un, has now become even more difficult. A denuclearization agreement with the North Korean, with its sizable and secretive nuclear arsenal and ICBM capabilities, would have been enormously difficult under any circumstances, but what incentive does Pyongyang now have in signing on to any agreement knowing that the United States could unilaterally renege at any point in this Administration or the next?
In 2015, as Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium grew ever larger, Congress was faced with the choice of approving or disapproving the JCPOA, and we had to consider whether there was any better alternative. We could find none. The sanctions regime that brought Iran to the negotiating table could not be maintained indefinitely, and if there was to be a peaceful route to preventing Iran from racing towards a nuclear arsenal, an international consensus was vital. Listening to President Trump, it is clear that there is no more of an alternative today than there was in 2015, and all the President has to offer is the hope that tough talk will be enough to avert catastrophe. That is not a strategy or a plan, but a dangerous abdication of responsibility for our nation’s security.