Ambassador Mark Johnson Reacts to Trump’s Iran Deal Exit
President Donald Trump had been signaling his displeasure with the Iran deal crafted by former President Obama, so it was no surprise when Trump announced on Tuesday that the U.S. will exit the deal.
Former Ambassador Mark Johnson, founder of the Montana World Affairs Council is one of the only people in the state to have once sat across from the Iranians in talks that occurred in the 1970’s.
“This was never a treaty, it was barely an agreement in that nothing was actually signed,” began Johnson from his home in Lolo. “In Iran there will be two camps, one who will condemn the President, saying the ‘Great Satan’ has struck against us. President Rouhani, who is considered to be somewhat of a moderate, said he would stay with the agreement, but the most intriguing part will come from the people that really matter, the hard corps Revolutionary Guard and the ultra conservative clerics.”
Johnson advised President Trump to reach out to the allied countries that have a stake in the agreement.
“What the President has to do right now, if he hasn’t already, is reach out to our allies, as there is a great state of anxiety among the French and the British and the Germans, who didn’t like the deal, but thought it was better to be inside the tent than outside,” he said. “The Israelis are in a different place, in that Netanyahu and Trump were on the same page all the way.”
Johnson said the matter of sanctions against Iran will play a part in what happens next.
“Sanctions are technically controlled by four separate pieces of legislation,” he said. “There is a waiting period of four to six months before things start to happen, so there is some time and wiggle room before these sanctions will kick in. The President may use these as leverage to go back to the allies and maybe even the Iranians and say it’s time to talk or otherwise the hammer will fall. The Iranians have said they will not renegotiate this deal, and they won’t. I negotiated with Iran in the late 70’s and they can be pretty tough.”
Johnson said the failed agreement may be the least of Tehran’s worries, with a failing economy, and currency that is becoming more and more worthless, there are water problems, and Israel.
“For the first time in decades, Israel has taken direct military action against Iranian forces in Syria, so as they say in the Middle East, ‘it’s complicated’.”