Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., June 21. DoD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith/Flickr/Creative Commons.
Tillerson repeated his bogus argument against the nuclear deal yesterday:
When one looks at…he uses the word spirit of the agreement, I use the word expectations of the agreement…that even contained in the preamble of the agreement, there was a clear expectation of the parties who were negotiating this nuclear deal that at the conclusion of the nuclear agreement, which set aside obviously a serious threat to the region and to the relationship, and that by doing so this would allow the parties to seek a more stable, peaceful region. That was the expectation of the parties
Regrettably, since the agreement was confirmed, we have seen anything but a more peaceful, stable region.
Secretary of State Tillerson says Iran failed expectation of nuclear deal to seek a more stable, peaceful region https://t.co/WC3D4ukCAN
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 21, 2017
This is the same misreading of the text of the JCPOA preface that I addressed on Monday. Like the complaint about sunset clauses, this objection to the deal is without merit. Tillerson’s understanding of the agreement isn’t supported by the text. The phrase he is misquoting says only this:
They [the P5+1 and Iran] anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA will positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.
In other words, the parties to the deal are affirming that they think the deal is good for regional and international peace and security, and they expect that it will make a positive contribution to the same. Insofar as blocking Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons makes that positive contribution, the parties’ expectations have been met so long as Iran complies with the deal. Since Iran is complying with the deal (and no other party to the deal thinks it isn’t complying), there is no reason for the parties to be dissatisfied with a deal that is doing exactly what it was intended to do. There is no mention in the text here or anywhere else about what the parties may or may not have hoped would follow on other issues, because those other issues have nothing to do with the JCPOA. Tillerson wasn’t involved in the negotiations, so he can’t credibly speak about what U.S. negotiators may or may not have expected, and he certainly can’t speak for any of the other parties.
Like other critics of the deal, Tillerson is trying to invent problems with the deal by moving the goalposts of what the deal is supposed to do and then declaring the deal to have fallen short. It would have been ideal if the nuclear deal had also created an opening for de-escalating tensions and resolving other outstanding issues, but hard-liners on both sides of the deal were determined never to let that happen. It is galling to say the least to have opponents of the deal now use the destructive regional policies they also favor as proof that the deal has somehow failed. It’s one more nonsensical complaint that shows how desperate the administration is to find an excuse to renege on the deal. Americans should understand that they are being lied to by the administration about what the deal is supposed to do, and they shouldn’t let Trump and his officials get away with it.