Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the controversial Iran nuclear deal, has reportedly launched a clandestine effort to save the agreement.
The deal eased sanctions against Iran in exchange for the regime agreeing to end its nuclear weapons program. The way the deal works, every few months the U.S. must certify that Iran is in compliance. The next deadline is May 12, and if President Donald Trump, long a critic of the agreement, refuses to certify Iran’s compliance, it would have the same effect as scrapping the deal.
According to The Boston Globe, which relied heavily on unnamed sources, Kerry has been meeting with European and United Nations officials to find a way to salvage the deal in case Trump refuses to certify Iranian compliance.
Perhaps most notably, he engaged in what the Globe referred to as “some unusual shadow diplomacy,” meeting last month with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the United Nations to talk about how to preserve the nuclear deal. It was the second time in a matter of roughly two months that the two men had met.
“It is unusual for a former secretary of state to engage in foreign policy like this, as an actual diplomat and quasi-negotiator,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “Of course, former secretaries of state often remain quite engaged with foreign leaders, as they should, but it’s rarely so issue-specific, especially when they have just left office.”
Although Kerry did not comment on his activities, he has publicly responded to information released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that revealed the extent of Iranian nuclear weapons efforts prior to the 2015 agreement.
“Every detail PM Netanyahu presented yesterday was every reason the world came together to apply years of sanctions and negotiate the Iran nuclear agreement — because the threat was real and had to be stopped,” Kerry tweeted this week. “It’s working!”
The efforts of a former secretary of state to counteract the policy of the succeeding administration are necessary, said David Wade, a Kerry adviser and a former chief of staff at the State Department. Wade is helping advise Diplomacy Works, a group consisting of Kerry and some of his former top officials at the State Department.
“We are in uncharted waters. The bipartisan, traditional foreign policy community remains on the president’s enemies list from 2016,” Wade said.
“This isn’t President Obama’s agreement. It’s the world’s agreement,” he added. “Maybe Macron, Merkel, and Great Britain can persuade the administration, but if they can’t they’ll be even more essential to protecting the deal absent the United States. We know these voices are powerful. They have an audience with the president and our allies are popular at home.”
French President Emmanuel Macron is among those urging Trump not to kill the deal, as reported by The Hill.
Macron told the German publication Der Spiegel that killing the deal would be a mistake.
“That would mean opening Pandora’s box, it could mean war,” Macron said. “I don’t believe that Donald Trump wants war.”
Macron had predicted last month that Trump would scrap the deal.
“My view — I don’t know what your president will decide — is that he will get rid of this deal on his own, for domestic reasons,” Macron said, adding that such an action “can work in the short term but it’s very insane in the medium to long term.”
On Friday, Trump mocked Kerry during a speech to the National Rifle Association, according to the Washington Examiner. Trump mentioned a bicycle accident Kerry had in 2015, when he collided with a police car.
“John Kerry — not the best negotiator we’ve ever seen. He never walked away from the table except to be in that bicycle race where he fell and broke his leg. That was the only time. I said, ‘Don’t tell him you broke your leg. Just stay inside. Say you don’t want to negotiate. You’ll make a much better deal,'” Trump said.
“But he broke it And I learned from that — at 73 years old, you never go into a bicycle race. You just don’t do that. I’m not 73, he was, OK,” he said.
During the speech, Trump said his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is proof that his hard-line foreign policy stance against nations such as North Korea and Iran is working.
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