Former Secretary of State John Kerry has been working over the last several months to drum up support for the United States’ remaining in the Iran nuclear deal, according to The Boston Globe.
Kerry, according to the Globe, has met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to forge a strategy that would keep the international deal in place.
The U.S., along with France, Germany, China, Russia, and Britain, struck a deal with Iran in 2015 that halted that country’s nuclear program. President Trump has long said should he become President, he would tear the deal up and negotiate a new one. Mr. Trump believes the terms of the deal should be expanded to include Iran’s non-nuclear, ballistic missile program as well as human-rights abuses addressed as well.
President Trump waived sanctions prior to the last deadline under the deal in January, but vowed not to do it again. A decision on whether he will pull the U.S. out of the pact is expected to be made today. May 12 is the next deadline for the U.S. to decide whether to re-impose economic sanctions that were rolled back under the deal.
In addition to Zarif, Kerry has also reportedly met with senior European officials including German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and has had phone conversations with top European Union diplomat Federica Mogherini. He’s also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York to discuss the terms of the deal.
Macron, who made an official state visit to the White House last month, has been very vocal in his support for the pact, and reportedly lobbied the President hard to remain in the deal during his time in Washington.
Kerry is working with a group of former officials from the State Department who helped the negotiate the original 2015 accord. The group, known as Diplomacy Works, has top former State Department officials working for it such as lead Iran-deal negotiator Wendy Sherman, former State Department chief of staff Jon Finer, and former spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
It’s been making an aggressive PR push on television, through news articles and in meetings with current and former political leaders in the U.S. and all over the world, but their success in persuading President Trump to remain in the deal remains to be seen.
The President, however, criticized Kerry for his working in the shadows to keep the U.S. in the agreement. “The United States does not need John Kerry’s possibly illegal Shadow Diplomacy on the very badly negotiated Iran Deal. He was the one that created this MESS in the first place!” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.
An open question is how the other five countries in the deal would react if the U.S. were to pull out. All have indicated a desire to keep the framework of the deal in place. It is unclear how effective sanctions imposed by the U.S. alone against Iran would be.
Many have also questioned the appropriateness of Kerry’s actions. President Trump’s former national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was heavily criticized for conducting diplomacy with the Russians before the Trump administration was officially sworn in.
Flynn lied to FBI investigators about his actions and was forced to resign when they became public. He has since pleaded guilty to charges of lying to the FBI, and is currently cooperating with federal investigators in the Russia election meddling probe.
Reached for comment this week a State Department official told ITN only, “Secretary Kerry is a private citizen.”
Photo by the U.S. State Department