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In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Donald Trump prior to the President's departure from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO via Getty Images)

Bibi Embraces Trump at UN as Iran Warns Against Nuke Deal Sabotage

Analysts argue Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to "put the U.S. back on a path to war with Iran" by pressuring Trump to scrap the landmark agreement

Jake Johnson

Just ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement Monday that he will come to a decision on the fate of the Iran nuclear deal "very soon," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned in an interview on CNN that "[e]xiting such an agreement would carry a high cost for the United States of America."

"Whatever line Netanyahu uses to compel Trump to quit the nuclear deal, the end result is inescapable: Killing the deal will put the U.S. back on a path to war with Iran."
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council
"I do not believe Americans would be willing to pay such a high cost for something that will be useless for them," Rouhani added. Scrapping the nuclear accord, he concluded, would "yield no results for the United States but at the same time it will generally decrease and cut away and chip away at international trust."

Rouhani's comments came just a day prior to the start of the 2017 United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, where Trump met on Monday with another ardent opponent of the nuclear accord, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The remarks also came amid a tense back and forth between the U.S. and Iran, with each nation accusing the other of violating the terms and "the spirit" of the nuclear deal.

Trump, for his part, has reportedly been working to find any possible justification for abandoning the agreement—efforts critics have characterized as overt and potentially disastrous "sabotage"—despite repeated insistence (pdf) from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is complying with the accord.

In a statement signed by 76 former political, diplomatic, and military leaders on Monday, the European Leadership Network, a non-profit based in London, sided with Rouhani, arguing that "any unilateral U.S. action that jeopardizes the Iran nuclear deal would harm U.S.-Europe relations, particularly if U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were resumed."

The statement concluded by noting that the nuclear agreement "has materially improved not only Europe's security but also global security," and implored Trump and the U.S. Congress to understand that "the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement."

If he does ultimately decide to undermine the nuclear accord against the advice of global community, though, Trump will have an eager partner in Netanyahu, who has repeatedly claimed—contradicting all available intelligence—that Iran is fast-tracking the development of a nuclear weapon.

"The fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement."
—European Leadership Network

Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, argued Monday that Netanyahu's only goal in moving aggressively to undermine the Iran nuclear deal is to push the U.S. to take military action against Iran.

Critics of the nuclear accord, Parsi notes, have been "twisting and turning" in their attempts to undermine the agreement, arguing in one moment that the deal does not address the "real problem" of Iran's territorial expansion, and in another that Iran's nuclear program is what constitutes the true "existential threat."

"Nevertheless, whatever line Netanyahu uses to compel Trump to quit the nuclear deal, the end result is inescapable: Killing the deal will put the U.S. back on a path to war with Iran. Which is exactly what Netanyahu has sought for the past 25 years," Parsi concludes. "With Trump in the White House, he finally has a receptive ear for his shifting and contradictory arguments to push the U.S. into yet another war in the Middle East."

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