- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday the United States would stand firm alongside its international allies to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

He delivered that message to Congress a day after the Trump White House pulled the plug on a controversial denuclearization deal with Tehran against the wishes of America’s top allies.

“We will continue to work alongside our allies and partners to ensure that Iran can never acquire a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Mattis said during a Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing on the Pentagon’s fiscal 2019 spending package.

While Washington looks to leverage its international military partnerships to curb “the range of Iran’s malign influences” in the Middle East and elsewhere across the globe, the U.S. “remains committed to putting the safety, interests and well-being of our citizens first,” Mr. Mattis told the committee.

The defense chief’s vow to cooperate with U.S. allies to ensure Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, administration critics claims Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Obama-era atomic pact with Iran — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JPCoA — was a direct rebuke of the wishes of those allies.

The leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom launched an 11th-hour campaign to convince the Trump White House to remain in the pact with Iran. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally lobbied Mr. Trump to keep the deal during separate visits in late April.

Those arguments ultimately fell on deaf ears as the Trump administration announced Tuesday the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear pact, which had been President Obama’s key foreign policy achievement, and moved to reinstate harsh sanctions on Tehran.

“It is with regret and concern that we, the Leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom take note of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States,” from the Iran deal, according to a rare tripartite statement from Paris, Berlin and London hours after Mr. Trump’s decision.

“Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement,” they added.

But ensuring the safety and interests of U.S. citizens was the driving force behind the administration’s decision, Mr. Trump said Tuesday.

“We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction, and we will not allow a regime that chants ‘Death to America’ to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth,” he said during a speech at the White House.

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