Trump pulled out of Iran nuke deal to spite Obama, former official says

A former Obama official calls out Trump for alleged petty politics.

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May 17, 2018 10:43
2 minute read.
Donald Trump Barack Obama

Donald Trump speaks to Barack Obama at Trump's presidential inauguration in Washington, US, January 20, 2017. (photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

 
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US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement to undo his predecessor Barack Obama's legacy, former Obama administration official Wendy Sherman said Thursday.

"[Trump] pulled out of deal because it was a signature achievement of President Obama's," Sherman said in an interview with Israel's Army Radio, adding that Trump has made a point of walking back many other Obama-era policies.

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Trump quits Iran nuclear deal, reimposes sanctions on Tehran (Reuters)

Sherman, who served as under secretary of state for political affairs, the fourth-ranking official in the US State Department, from September 2011 to October 2015, listed the desire to satisfy the Republican party's conservative base as another reason for Trump's decision to withdraw from the deal. Sherman also suggested Trump genuinely shares Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's concerns about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015 by six world powers..

"He obviously cares about what the Israeli prime minister believes," she told veteran investigative journalist Ilana Dayan, adding "we all care about Israel's security."

Dayan pushed back, asking whether Israelis are justified in feeling that Trump not only shares their concerns, but is willing to act militarily against Iran if it comes down to it, something she suggested Obama may have been unwilling to do. Perhaps Trump, she said, is willing to walk the walk.

"It's not fair to say Obama was not open to a military option," Sherman shot back.

During his presidency, Obama commissioned a new weapon, a penetrative bomb, that could destroy Iran's Fordow uranium enrichment facility, Sherman added. The former Obama administration official was seemingly referring to a 30,000-pound, bunker-buster bomb called the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) that the US planned to use as a last resort against Iran.

But Obama made clear throughout his presidency that he believed military action would only set Iran back temporarily in its quest for a nuclear weapon. Sherman echoed that sentiment.

"You in Israel know Iran could build another facility," she said. "Military option is not a good thing, it would lead to broader war in the Middle East," she added.

Sherman said she appreciated the Mossad's work in obtaining the information Netanyahu presented in a live public address last month, allegedly proving “Iran lied big time,” about its nuclear program. But she didn't learn anything new from the prime minister's speech, she said.

"This is not news," she said. "The reason we had the negotiation in the first place is because we knew the Iranians lied."

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