Pompeo Insists We Will Have a Strategy if U.S. Backs Out of Iran Deal

Policy Analyst James McKeon spoke to Circa about Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo’s comments on the Iran nuclear agreement.


“All I can say is if the United States withdrew from the Iran deal, the Iran deal would collapse,” McKeon said.

While Iran may not pick up where it left off right away, he stressed there would be nothing preventing it from doing so anytime it wants without the JCPOA. The U.S. would also be left with less leverage at that point to reopen negotiations.

“Unilateral sanctions are nowhere near as powerful as multilateral sanctions,” he said.

Reaching an agreement with the three European countries is only half of the battle. Changes or additions to the JCPOA would need to be signed off on by Russia, China, and Iran itself, and those countries have displayed far less flexibility on the subject.

“Renegotiating the agreement is going to be extremely difficult,” McKeon said, observing that it took many years and many attempts to finalize the original deal.

If North Korea is left with the impression that any agreement reached with Trump could be torn up after he leaves office, McKeon said the president’s commitments might carry less weight.

“It undermines any negotiating strength we have with North Korea…,” he said. “You think, ‘What if the next president comes in and hates the agreement and decides to leave?’”

For supporters of the agreement, though, Pompeo’s performance at Thursday’s hearing did little to inspire faith that the administration is prepared for the fallout from a decision it appears to be on the verge of making.

“They’re going in blind and hoping for the best,” McKeon said. “That is not how you do diplomacy whatsoever.” Read more