By Javad Heirannia

State, defense departments want to preserve JCPOA: ex-WH official

February 27, 2017

TEHRAN - Frank N. von Hippel, a former assistant director for national security in the White House Office of Science and Technology says U.S. State Department and Pentagon as well as the American people want to “preserve” the Iran nuclear agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The Departments of State and Defense want to preserve the JCPOA and so does the public,” N. von Hippel tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Speaking in his Senate confirmation hearing on January 11, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he would recommend a "full review" of the nuclear deal with Iran. However, N. von Hippel, now a professor of Princeton University, says he does not “think the White House has any real ideas on this”.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Donald Trump has said the nuclear should be renegotiated. What is your opinion?

A: I don’t think the White House has any real ideas on this.  Perhaps to require Iran to have no enrichment at all as the Bush Administration wanted? That idea failed. The White House is critical of everything that the Obama Administration accomplished.   But the Administration is not united on this. The Departments of State and Defense want to preserve the JCPOA and so does the public.  The U.S. public is not interested in another war.

Q: Can the Trump administration violate the agreement unilaterally?

A: The JCPOA is an Executive Agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council.  The Trump Administration could withdraw the U.S. but that would isolate the U.S. diplomatically. 

Q: Some scholars such as Gary Samore have made arguments that the nuclear deal is fragile. What do you think of such arguments?

A: To the extent that there is any White House strategy at this point, I think it could be to provoke Iran to withdraw from the JCPOA with sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program and its activities in Yemen and other countries in the Middle East.  I hope Iran will not respond to such provocations and thereby isolate itself.  The great accomplishment of the JCPOA must be preserved and built upon.

JH/PA

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