Bloomberg: I opposed the Iran deal, but the way Trump left it was wrong

Democratic presidential hopeful clarifies his position on 2015 nuclear deal.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg

Former New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday clarified his position on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

Bloomberg’s spokesman provided a statement to JTA on the Jewish billionaire’s stance, after the news agency published that Bloomberg was skeptical of the nuclear deal, which traded sanctions relief for Iran for a rollback in its nuclear program, and was peeved by the way President Barack Obama sold it to the public, which Bloomberg decried as divisive.

“Mike was initially against the Iran deal but thinks it was a mistake for President Trump to unilaterally walk away from it,” the spokesman told JTA.

“While the agreement was not perfect — it did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program, and it gave the regime political cover to step up its aggression in the region — the US had an obligation to keep its word once the agreement was in place,” the spokesman said. “The U.S. withdrawal has allowed Iran to abandon its own obligations under the deal and has left the world with few tools to stop it.”

The spokesman also said what Bloomberg would do to redress Trump’s withdrawal from the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, going into more detail than most of the other candidates.

“The first thing to do is re-establish the coalition that realized the danger of Iran marching toward a nuclear weapon. Collective pressure will be needed to change Iran’s behavior,” the spokesman told JTA. “This should be the starting point for the use of diplomacy. We should also be prepared to employ the leverage that sanctions have provided.”

“Next, Iran must come back into compliance with the JCPOA requirements. That will require addressing the advances it is likely to make between now and next year — advances that could shrink its breakout time. After rejoining, in order for any new arrangement to be sustainable, we must also be ready to address other inadequacies in the deal, which include the need to extend fast-approaching sunset clauses, curtail Iran’s ballistic missiles, end its destabilizing regional activities and institute more intrusive monitoring.”

Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

In response, Iran gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, before announcing earlier this month that it will abandon the deal amid heightened tensions with the United States over the killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

JTA notes that at last week’s televised debate between Democratic presidential candidates, in which Bloomberg did not take part, all participants said they thought Trump made a huge mistake when he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and said outright or implied that as president, they would return to the deal.

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said that ensuring Iran doesn't have nuclear weapons is a priority but also criticized Trump for withdrawing from the deal.

"Ensuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons will, of course, be a priority, because it's such an important part of keeping America safe," said Buttigieg.

"But unfortunately, President Trump has made it much harder for the next president to achieve that goal. By gutting the Iran nuclear deal — one that, by the way, the Trump administration itself admitted was working, certified that it was preventing progress towards a nuclear Iran — by gutting that, they have made the region more dangerous and set off the chain of events that we are now dealing with as it escalates even closer to the brink of outright war," he added.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also criticized Trump for withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and has called for a resumption of diplomacy vis-à-vis Iran.

“Iran’s decision to restart enrichment at Fordow is deeply concerning. Before Donald Trump ripped it up, the Iran Deal was working. We must return to serious diplomacy with allies to constrain Iran’s nuclear program and de-escalate the crisis,” she wrote on Twitter in November, after Iran announced it would restart uranium enrichment at the Fordow underground plant.