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Retired Israeli General Blasts Trump Decision To Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

Jan. 29, 2022 (EIRNS)—Former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces (2015-2019) Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot (ret.) denounced President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to pull the U.S. out of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran in a series of interviews with veteran Israeli journalist Ben Caspit, who reported on it in Al-Monitor yesterday. Asked whether the U.S. pullout was a strategic mistake, Eizenkot answered,

“Yes, I think the American withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in 2018 was a strategic mistake given that it freed the Iranians of constraints, split up the agreement’s enforcement mechanism, and even though the Americans left, the others [five world powers] remained. The Iranians were in shock for the first few months and then they started enriching uranium and violating the agreement, with legitimacy to do so by the U.S. withdrawal. This resulted in reduced sanctions, barely any oversight, the Chinese and Russians did not cooperate, and that is why I think it was a mistake. I thought so in real time, too.”

Eizenkot explained that after the agreement was complete in 2015, the IDF turned its attention from Iran’s nuclear program to neutralizing other threats, primarily the tunnel threats from both Hamas and Hezbollah. “And then Trump withdrew from the nuclear [agreement]. It hit us like a bolt of lightning on a clear day,” Eizenkot said.

Caspit describes Eizenkot’s remarks as “nothing short of astonishing,” because they indicate that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deployed his two closest confidants, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer and Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, to pressure the Trump administration into withdrawing from the deal with Iran, without updating Israeli defense agencies or consulting with them. “We did not conduct any discussion regarding such an eventuality, there was no preparation, there was no analysis of the situation and of its implications, nor of the potential results of the ‘maximum pressure’ policy that Trump adopted as an alternative after the withdrawal,” Eizenkot recalled.

Asked whether he had warned Netanyahu against such a move, Eizenkot complained,

“How could we have warned if we didn’t know? I personally was never present at a discussion of this matter before it occurred. When we realized what was going on, I asked, ‘Wait a minute, who are the people dealing with this?’ It turned out that only Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ambassador Dermer and Mossad Chief Cohen had been quietly working on the matter, without informing anyone. These were the same people who dealt with the Abraham Accords [with the Gulf states] later on. This is not logical and not right. This is no way to run a state.”

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