Withdrawal from Iranian nuclear deal a mistake, says Obama

Washington, May 9: Walking away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a mistake, former US President Barack Obama said, asserting that the deal negotiated by his administration had worked in rolling back Iran's nuclear programme.

"I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake," Obama said in a rare statement issued yesterday after US President Donald Trump announced to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal and signed an executive order imposing new sanctions on Iran.

The Iranian nuclear deal was a signature foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama administration. The former president said without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.

Noting that all are aware of the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, he said it could embolden an already dangerous regime, threaten friends with destruction, pose unacceptable dangers to America's own security and trigger an arms race in the world's most dangerous region.

"If the constraints on Iran's nuclear programme under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it," he said.

In a dangerous world, Obama said, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure its country.

"We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe," he said.

In probably his first statement on foreign policy after he left the White House in January 2017, Obama said there were few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons or the potential for an even more destructive war in the Middle East. That's why the United States negotiated the JCPOA in the first place, he said.

"The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current US secretary of defence," the former president said. 

The JCPOA is in America's interest it has significantly rolled back Iran's nuclear programme, he added.

"And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes with Iran the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans," he said.

That is why the announcement is so misguided, Obama said, adding, "Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America's closest allies, and an agreement that our country's leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated."

-- PTI