“I think the pulling out of the Iran agreement is the worst mistake the United States has made in the Middle East since the Iraq War,” Tom Donilon told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files,” a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.
Donilon served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser from October 2010 to June 2013 and helped lead that administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against the Iranian regime. He said leaving the Iran nuclear deal — a decision Trump announced in May — comes “at a high cost, including with allies in Europe.”
“The key wasn’t US bilateral pressure on Iran,” Donilon said. “The key was our ability to talk to the world about the value, the goal, which was not to have a nuclear Iran. Pull that together and get an agreement on the pressure campaign. You needed to have multilateral pressure in order to have an effective pressure campaign in Iran.
“So we will it be very difficult to reconstruct that now,” Donilon said, alluding to the fact that many of the US’ European allies opposed Trump’s decision to leave the deal and have pledged to continue supporting it.
“There’s nothing that we couldn’t have pursued more effectively multilaterally while keeping the arrangement in place, that really has capped, rolled back and for extended period of time, pushed back the Iranian nuclear program,” Donilon said.
In addition to Trump’s move on the Iran nuclear agreement, Donilon also denounced the President’s decision to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership after taking office in January 2017.
“I think we’ll see pulling out of the TPP as one of the worst mistakes we’ve made in Asia since Vietnam,” he said.
In March, 11 countries signed the sweeping trade agreement without the United States. In April, Trump directed his top trade and economic advisers look into rejoining the deal, but such a move may be prohibitively difficult.