President-elect Donald Trump should put off efforts to dismantle the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran during his first days in office, or risk having the issue consume his inaugural term in the White House, the top Senate foreign policy lawmaker warned Friday.
The controversial deal struck between Washington and Tehran, designed to curb Iran’s aspirations to develop a nuclear weapon, “was flawed and not negotiated in the right way,” Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, told reporters.
But by dissolving the nuclear pact with Iran during Mr. Trump’s first 100 days, “you can create a crisis on the front end [of his term] by doing so,” Mr. Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in Washington.
The Iran deal brokered by President Obama was a favorite target of Mr. Trump on the campaign trail. While candidate Trump brashly condemned the nuclear pact, he rarely articulated how he would go about nixing the agreement if elected.
With two weeks before Mr. Trump heads to the Oval Office, details of those plans — and his overall policy strategy for the region — remain largely opaque.
Mr. Corker, who was once considered to be on Mr. Trump’s short list for secretary of state, said the president-elect would be better served by focusing his efforts on “proper implementation” on certain elements of the pact.
Specifically, Mr. Trump’s national security and foreign policy team should explore ways to strengthen enforcement measures outlined in the deal, to ensure Tehran’s compliance over the long term, he added.
But given the makeup of Mr. Trump’s presumptive cabinet, Mr. Corker’s suggestions may end up falling on deaf ears.
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, tapped to lead the Pentagon under the Trump administration, has long been an opponent of the Iran deal. It was that opposition that led Mr. Obama to fire the four-star general as head of U.S. Central Command.
California Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, who is slated to become Mr. Trump’s CIA director, has also publicly stated that he would like to scale back or eliminate the pact with Iran.
Only Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, has not publicly weighed in on the merits of the Iran deal. But he did note during a March interview on CNBC that Exxon Mobile would “certainly take a look” at possible U.S. investments in Iran “because it’s a huge resource-owning country.”