This is the heart of Trump's argument against the JCPOA: that the so-called sunset clauses limiting the number and quality of Iranian centrifuges only delay, rather than prevent, an Iranian nuclear weapons program from reaching fruition. To alter Trump's logic, the U.S. would need to discredit the intelligence it used to justify the economic sanctions it suspended when signing the JCPOA -- the same sanctions the U.S. threatened to "snap back" in place if Iran was found to be in violation, and that Trump reinstated when he pulled out of the agreement.
The U.S. failed to do this, and the onus for this failure rests solely with the Obama administration. To save political face by not having to acknowledge that the heart of its Iran policy was built on a foundation of lies, the Obama administration embedded this lie into the heart of the JCPOA in the form of the agreement to resolve the "possible military dimension" issue based upon a wink and a nod, as opposed to verifiable inspections. While this was done as a political expedient designed to breathe life into the JCPOA, it turned out to be a poison pill that killed the agreement. One need only witness the briefing by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he cites a newly acquired archive of Iranian documents detailing an alleged nuclear weapons program, and the extent to which Trump relied on that presentation to underpin his decision to leave the JCPOA.
Trump will go down in history as the man who walked away from an agreement that all parties -- including the U.S. -- acknowledge that Iran was fully compliant with. Trump only deludes himself and those who support him by saying that his actions to confront a threat from Iran now, rather than waiting for it to manifest itself, will make America more secure. Iran's nuclear program poses no threat to either America or the world, because it is, and always has been, a peaceful civilian program, something those in power know to be the case.
Trump was able to exploit the lies the Obama administration perpetrated in justifying his decision to walk away from the JCPOA. That fact is a sad reflection of the level of ignorance and antipathy that exists among U.S. citizens and those they elect to represent them in Congress.
Congress is, and has been, a witting facilitator of these lies. This should come as no surprise, however, because those the American people elect are a reflection of those they represent. Since 1979, when an Iranian mob took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for more than 400 days, the American people have been programmed to accept all information that paints Iran and its theocratic government in a negative light. When President Obama said Iran had a nuclear weapons program, the American people -- even after the previous administration's lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- did not demand hard evidence to back up the accusation.
Democrats will blame Trump for walking away from the JCPOA, and Republicans will blame Obama for making such a bad deal. But Congress, empowered by an ignorant American public willing to swallow at face value any news that paints Iran in a bad light, has made all of this possible. A lack of meaningful oversight of the intelligence community has allowed the lies about Iranian nuclear capability to be promulgated. Those lies were then used to impose economic sanctions intended to compel Iran to abandon a program it was not pursuing.
When examined from this perspective, Trump's actions are a logical extension of the collective will of the American people, expressed over time through the actions of Congress. True, Obama gave us the nuclear agreement with Iran, despite its political unpopularity with Congress as a whole. Like all policies built on a foundation of lies, though, the JCPOA was doomed from its inception. Eventually, the incompatible notion of a fictional Iranian nuclear weapons ambition sold by Obama to Congress would collide with the reality of a renewed Iranian enrichment capacity once the sunset clauses of the JCPOA expired.
We can point the finger at Trump all we want, but at the end of the day, the American people -- Republicans, Democrats, Independents and all others -- share collective responsibility for his decision to walk away from the Iranian nuclear agreement. It conforms to a set of facts most Americans embraced, unquestioning, in endorsing a policy of economic containment that backfired.
Trump's actions in walking away from the JCPOA didn't shred American credibility. That happened a long time ago, before Donald J. Trump was even a glimmer in the eye of those who elected him.