Kerry slams ‘chaos agent’ Trump on anniversary of Iran deal withdrawal

Former Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday ripped former President Trump over his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal six years ago, saying the move made Americans “less safe.”

“When Donald Trump refused the appeals of our closest allies and pulled the United States out of the JCPOA, it created a more dangerous region, empowered Iran, and isolated the United States instead of isolating Tehran,” Kerry said in a statement obtained exclusively by The Hill, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Even Republicans who opposed the original agreement had appealed to the Trump White House to remain in the agreement to maintain leverage over Iran, but instead Trump chose chaos,” Kerry added. “It made the world more dangerous and Americans less safe.”

Kerry, who oversaw the completion of the Iran agreement in 2015 while serving as secretary of State, argued in Wednesday’s statement that the deal was working and that Trump’s decision to withdraw caused Iran to become more aggressive.

“Now Trump is back as a candidate for president singing the same song — threatening to once again go it alone, undermine our global leadership, and isolate us from our allies,” Kerry said. “He’s attacking democracy and our fundamental rights here at home. Thanks to President Biden’s strong leadership, we have allies sharing the burden and working by our side, and the U.S. is once again at the forefront on the international stage. Americans want stability, not a chaos agent back in the White House.”

Kerry departed his position as President Biden’s special envoy on climate in February and has taken on a role helping with Biden’s reelection campaign.

Trump on May 8, 2018, announced he was withdrawing the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, breaking with European allies and fulfilling a major campaign promise to end what he had called “one of the most incompetent” deals ever made.

“It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will,” Trump said at the time.

The deal provided Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for accepting limits on its nuclear program. European allies had lobbied Trump to remain in the agreement.

Around the same time he announced he was pulling out of the Iran deal, Trump attacked Kerry and accused the former secretary of State of conducting “shadow diplomacy” by meeting with Iranian officials to discuss protecting the agreement.

Iran has been at the center of recent unrest in the Middle East following Hamas’s terrorist attacks last October in Israel, which set off the current war in Gaza. Israel and Iran have also exchanged strikes in recent weeks, raising fears of a wider conflict in the region.

Following Iran’s strikes against Israel, the Biden administration imposed sanctions last month on leaders and entities connected to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s Defense Ministry and the Iranian government’s missile and drone program.

The Biden administration has sought to avoid wider conflict with Iran, but officials have acknowledged the White House is not looking to revive the Obama-era nuclear deal.

“We’d love nothing better than to be able to solve Iranian nuclear progress — nuclear weapons progress through diplomacy,” spokesperson John Kirby told reporters last month. “Unfortunately, that’s not an option right now because the — the Iranians, well before any of this, just weren’t negotiating in good faith.”

Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal was one of his signature foreign policy moves during his time in the White House.

The former president has repeatedly claimed in recent months that the war between Israel and Hamas would have never started if he were in office because of the intense sanctions his administration placed on Iran. Trump has not offered much substance on how he would handle the war between Israel and Hamas, however, beyond saying Israel is losing the public relations battle and should finish the job.

Trump’s aides have similarly argued Biden is to blame for unrest in the Middle East.

“[Biden] enabled Iran, which led to the war in Israel,” Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt said in a statement this week. “Joe Biden weakness and failure is why chaos is breaking out across our country and all over the world. Americans can rest secure in the fact that on day one, President Trump will restore peace through strength abroad, and demand law and order at home.”

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