When President Trump chose in May 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the JCPOA agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program, a wide range of leading American and Israeli security experts warned that he was making a terrible and deeply unnecessary mistake. At the time, it was crystal clear that the JCPOA was working as intended to comprehensively restrain, monitor and inspect the Iranian nuclear program, ensuring that Iran could not and would not approach the level of enrichment needed to make nuclear weapons.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, along with Trump’s own military and intelligence agencies, confirmed that Iran was in full compliance with the terms of the agreement. General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that “‘Iran is adhering to its JCPOA obligations.” Trump’s Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress in late 2017 that continuing to comply with the agreement was in the best interests of the United States.
In a public letter, 26 former top-ranking Israeli military and security officials urged the United States to maintain the agreement. They warned: “American abandonment of the agreement would undermine not just the deal, but Israel’s security as well….Should US abandonment of the agreement lead to the pact’s demise, the consequences for Israeli security could be even more dire. Iran could resume the full scope of its former nuclear activities — or advance well beyond them ahead of time — unrestricted and unmonitored.”
These warnings, which Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netayahu ignored, have proven to be completely correct.
In response to the US violation of the agreement, Iran has heavily increased its nuclear enrichment levels and stockpiles of enriched uranium, and is now far closer to the threshold for developing a nuclear weapon than they ever were under the JCPOA. While the JCPOA successfully pushed Iran’s breakout time to a full year, since the US withdrawal from the agreement that time has moved closer to one month. The threat of another dangerous and costly Middle East war is high. A wide range of veteran Israeli military experts — including some critics of the original agreement — now agree: Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement has been a complete disaster.