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Pence joins Iran offensive, urges allies to abandon nuclear deal

US intelligence chiefs believe Iran is honoring the international nuclear deal. Pence wants our allies to abandon it anyway.
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Republican U.S. vice presidential nominee Mike Pence speaks at a campaign rally, Oct 22, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently told the U.S. Senate that Iran is not "currently undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activity" needed to make a bomb. In fact, American intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran is actually abiding by the terms of the international nuclear agreement reached in 2015.

But to hear the White House tell it, it's irrelevant whether or not the policy is working. Indeed, as the Washington Post  reported this morning, Vice President Mike Pence wants our allies who helped negotiate the agreement to withdraw from the deal, irrespective of its efficacy.

Vice President Pence on Thursday launched a combative broadside against some of America's closest allies, calling on European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran and accusing them of attempting to break U.S. sanctions against "that vile regime" in Tehran.Officials from Britain, France and Germany -- all countries that negotiated and signed the 2015 landmark agreement that President Trump withdrew from last year -- were in the audience as Pence accused them of essentially joining sides with America's enemy.

It's an extraordinary foreign policy dynamic. After Donald Trump withdraw from the JCPOA for reasons the White House has never fully explained -- "Because Obama helped negotiate a historic and effective agreement" is not a compelling reason -- U.S. allies took steps to ensure the policy continued to work. In fact, the efforts from British, French, and German officials are ongoing.

In response, the Republican administration is criticizing our allies and pressuring them to abandon the international agreement that -- according to U.S. intelligence chiefs -- our former partners are still honoring.

It came against a backdrop in which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly said this morning, "You can't achieve peace and stability in the Middle East without confronting Iran."

What's more, all of this comes the same week as an official White House video message in which National Security Advisor John Bolton claimed. "Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons to intimidate peaceful people all around the globe, and ballistic missiles to use as delivery systems."

Again, Trump's own intelligence chiefs have already said, publicly and under oath, that this isn't true.

Yesterday, meanwhile, NBC News reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "startled Iranians and even the White House on Wednesday with a strident call for Israeli-Arab action against the government in Tehran that was translated by his office as urging 'war with Iran.'"

 The messaging isn't exactly subtle.