President Donald Trump has less than two weeks to decide whether he will re-certify the Iran nuclear agreement, and while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a multi-media presentation Monday to lend credence to why Trump should get the U.S. out of the deal, some of the president’s top advisers believe the deal should be preserved.
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice says talk of potentially serious consequences if the U.S. walks away from the deal are overblown.
“It’s not going to be a disaster everybody’s talking about,” Rice said Monday on “Fox & Friends.”
“The allies love this deal, and I certainly hope that in their meeting with President Trump that [French President Emmanuel] Macron and [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel talk about ways to improve the deal if we’re going to stay in it,” she added.
.@CondoleezzaRice on the Iran deal: “I would not have signed this deal. I don’t think it was a very good deal. I think we were in a hurry to get a deal and we left a lot on the table.” pic.twitter.com/4cJIICp4Ld
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 1, 2018
Rice said she would stay in the deal to respect the wishes of U.S. allies, but added, “If the president decides to pull out of the deal, I have no argument with that.”
Rice, who served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, said the deal — officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and signed in July, 2015, by the U.S., China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom — was flawed from the start.
“I would not have signed this deal,” Rice said. “I don’t think it was a very good deal. I think we were in a hurry to get a deal and we left a lot on the table. They (Iran) got a lot up front.
“But if we get out of this deal, it’s going to be just fine,” she said.
Rice believes Iran wants the deal to remain in place, in part, to try and stimulate business investments in the country that were not allowed because of economic sanctions in place prior to the deal.
Trump has until May 12 to decide whether to continue U.S. involvement with the agreement, request modifications to it or abandon it. Trump on Monday seemed to indicate once again that he could leave the agreement, but added, “That doesn’t mean we won’t negotiate a real agreement.”
In a separate interview with CBS News, Rice pointed to the deal’s verification methods, saying they “were not very strong.”
“The (Trump) administration’s been worried about this agreement from the very beginning and there’s reason to be worried about the agreement,” she added.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis testified Monday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying there was no compelling reason for the president to abandon the deal.
Netanyahu used his televised address Monday to claim Israeli intelligence officials uncovered 55,000 pages and more than 100,000 files that prove Iran has continued work on a “secret” nuclear weapons program even after signing the 2015 deal in which the country pledged not to work on any nuclear weapons for a 10-year period.
“Iran lied, big time,” Netanyahu said in his address.
Rice said Netanyahu’s claims prove one of the biggest problems with the Iran deal.
“It says to me that the 2015 nuclear deal, the real issue is verification,” she said. “When you know that you have a country that’s lied repeatedly, obviously, why trust them now?
“My concern about the nuclear deal has been the verification regime,” she added. “If anything this just makes it even more clear that you can’t have a verification regime that gives the Iran regime weeks to clean up the site.”
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