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The White House appears ready to abandon the landmark Iranian nuclear deal in favor of what experts say could lead to war with Iran. The New York Times reported last week that President Donald Trump has instructed his national security aides to find a rationale for declaring that Iran is violating the terms of the accord. The order came despite the fact the Trump administration reluctantly certified that Iran has complied with its obligations under the agreement earlier this month.
Last week, Trump intensified his threats against Iran during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio. Observers say Trump's actions are laying the groundwork for a disastrous military confrontation with Iran. We speak with Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Is President Donald Trump trying to sabotage the Obama-brokered nuclear agreement with Iran and seek a war instead with Iran? According to The New York Times, Trump has instructed his national security aides to find a rationale for declaring that Iran is violating the terms of the accord. The order came despite the fact the Trump administration begrudgingly certified that Iran has complied with its obligation under the agreement earlier this month. Last week, Trump intensified his threats against Iran during a speech in Youngstown, Ohio.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [The Iran deal], which may be the single worst deal I've ever seen drawn by anybody, if that deal doesn't conform --
TRUMP SUPPORTER: Nuke 'em!
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- to what it's supposed to conform to, there's going to be big, big problems for them. That, I can tell you.
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we're joined by Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian American Council, whose new piece for LobeLog is titled "The Mask Is Off: Trump Is Seeking War with Iran." We usually speak to Trita in Washington, D.C. He's in Uppsala, Sweden, right now.
Trita, as you listen to President Trump, the speech he gave just a few days after he recertified the deal he so criticized, but what is this you're hearing about what his plans are?
TRITA PARSI: Well, I think we never before have seen a desire to unravel and destroy an arms control deal having been telegraphed as openly as President Trump is doing. He's essentially saying that he -- he said in the interview with The Wall Street Journal that he would never have certified that they're in compliance 180 days ago, when he first had to do it. So, he's intent not to do it.
In the opening piece, you said that New York Times is reporting that Trump has ordered his staff to find a way to refrain from certifying, and being able to claim that the Iranians are in violation. In reality, he has told them to fabricate a way, because what the plan appears to be is to try to request access to Iranian non-nuclear sites, knowing very well that as long as those are based on zero proper intelligence, the Iranians are going to reject. And once they reject, the Trump administration calculates that they will be able to say that the Iranians are out of compliance with the deal, and, that way, start moving towards what ultimately, most likely, will be some form of a military confrontation.
JUAN GONZALEZ: But, Trita, given the fact that this was a deal reached not just between the United States and Iran, but several other countries, as well, what would be the impact? Wouldn't the United States be further isolating itself from the rest of the international community, if it did attempt to flout the will of the other signatories to the deal?
TRITA PARSI: Certainly. It is not going to be an easy thing, but here's something quite important. Had it been up to Trump, he would have done it in the most reckless way possible, which is just to completely deny that the IAEA has certified that Iran is in compliance, and then claim that Iran isn't, and try to break the deal that way. The adults in the room, the so-called moderates that are around Trump, argued against this, but they didn't argue against it on the basis of trying to save the deal. They only argued against it in order to find a more clever way of doing it so that the cost to the United States, the isolation that you just mentioned, would probably be a bit less.