President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that the United States would begin the process of ending its participation in the Iran nuclear agreement worked out by the Obama Administration, saying the deal is "rotten to the core," and needs to be renegotiated to insure that the Tehran regime is not getting nuclear weapons.
"If I allowed this deal to stand there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East," the President said from the White House, as he charged the agreement was filled with loopholes and weak enforcement mechanisms to keep Tehran in check.
"This will make America much safer," Mr. Trump told reporters.
"We will not allow a regime that chants, "Death to America," to get access to the most deadly weapons on earth," the President added.
"I support additional sanctions on Iran, as they are the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world," said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), as a number of GOP lawmakers rallied to support the President, making the case that President Obama and European allies had given Iran a deal that did little to shut off the drive for nuclear weapons by Tehran.
"The only way to deal with a maniacal regime like Iran is from a position of strength," said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
But on Capitol Hill, there were not only Democrats - but also some Republicans - who immediately questioned the President's move.
"The Iran deal is working," argued Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). "It's kept Iran from developing and getting a nuclear weapons program."
"However, without proof that Iran is in violation of the agreement, it is a mistake to fully withdraw from this deal," said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).
"I believe the best path forward at this point is to continue pushing to fix these flaws as we enforce the hell out of the deal," said Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"I fear a withdrawal would actually set back these efforts. And Congress has heard nothing about an alternative," Royce added.
"Today is a sad day for America’s global leadership," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
"Pulling out of this deal now is a tragic mistake," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).
During the Iran announcement, Mr. Trump also publicly revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to North Korea, as the President again said that a time and location had already been determined for a summit with Kim Jong Un, whose own nuclear ambitions have resulted in warnings from the Trump Administration.
"The U.S. no longer makes empty threats," Mr. Trump said, as aides said there should be no parsing of words about what the President was doing with Iran.
"We're out of the deal," said a senior White House official. "We're out of the deal."
The decision drew a thumbs down from former President Barack Obama.
"The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense," the former President said in a written statement.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.