Anti-war advocates and foreign policy experts implored Americans to remember the speech President Donald Trump delivered on Tuesday announcing U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, warning that it could mark the pivotal moment at which a historic diplomatic achievement was shredded in favor of a potentially catastrophic military confrontation.
"This is how the Iran war started," declared National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi on Twitter during Trump's remarks.
Make no mistake: The way Trump just started his speech right now made it abundantly clear: He's paving the way for a major war with Iran.
Killing the #IranDeal is just a first step in that process.
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) May 8, 2018
In his speech—which critics characterized as music to the ears of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the murderous Saudi regime, and Iranian hardliners—Trump announced that the U.S. will quickly move to reimpose nuclear sanctions on Iran while also tacking on punitive new economic penalties.
"Playing to his base and spiting his predecessor may be the key motivations for Trump, but his new war cabinet is likely more focused on provoking a response from Iran that it could use as a pretext for war."
—Jon Rainwater, Peace Action
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Trump's announcement places the U.S. in legal violation of the nuclear accord and drastically increases the chances of a "war of choice" with Iran, as peace groups noted in response to the president's speech.
"Today's unnecessary, reckless, and dangerous actions by Donald Trump will endanger our national security, further isolate us from our allies, and increase the likelihood that we become trapped in another unnecessary and avoidable war in the Middle East," said MoveOn, NIAC, Win Without War, and several other anti-war organizations in a joint statement on Tuesday.
Jon Rainwater, executive director of Peace Action, argued on the heels of Trump's speech that while the president's decision to ignore the advice of experts who say the nuclear deal has been extremely effective isn't surprising, his decision is "particularly terrifying" given who Trump has chosen to direct his foreign policy—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.
"Beyond inviting the collapse of the historic Iran agreement and all the benefits it provides, Trump has surrounded himself with advocates for regime change in Iran, Rainwater noted. "Playing to his base and spiting his predecessor may be the key motivations for Trump, but his new war cabinet is likely more focused on provoking a response from Iran that it could use as a pretext for war."
Despite Trump's decision to withdraw from the accord, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said following the U.S. president's remarks that he has "directed his diplomats to negotiate with European countries, Russia, and China about remaining in the nuclear deal," the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
While Iranian leaders have emphasized repeatedly that they have no plans of pursuing nuclear weapons with or without the deal, Ali Shamkhani, head of Iran's National Security Council, said in an interview on Tuesday that Iran "will not remain passive" in the face of the Trump administration's threats.