Former President Obama on Tuesday called President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions unveils ‘zero tolerance’ policy at southern border NY attorney general resigns after allegations of physical abuse Trump Jr. mocks Schneiderman after reports he abused women MORE’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement “misguided” and a “serious mistake.”
“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,” Obama said in a statement, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal’s formal name.
“If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program 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 added.
Trump announced Tuesday that he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, which represented Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.
The 2015 agreement between Iran, the U.S., Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia and the European Union provided sanctions relief to Tehran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
Obama expressed concern that withdrawing from the agreement would hurt the U.S.’s standing with its world allies. European leaders have already said they intend to honor the agreement without the U.S.
Trump has long railed against the agreement, calling it “terrible” and “the worst ever.” His past comments made Tuesday’s move largely unsurprising.
“The fact is this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace and it never will,” Trump said Tuesday.
In his statement, Obama sought to counter each of the most popular arguments among Trump and Republicans for leaving the agreement.
He argued that the deal has effectively reined in Iran’s nuclear program, and disputed Trump’s claims that Iran is not complying with the pact.
Trump has also been critical of the sunset clause in the agreement, which lifts restrictions on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program after 2025.
Obama argued that because the sunset clause won’t come up for several years, “there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.”
He concluded that the agreement “was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran,” and that pulling out of the deal hurts future negotiations.
“Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake,” Obama said.