‘Hawkish’ Trump Rejects Nuclear Deal, Nets Side With ‘Moderate’ Iran

During special coverage of President Trump’s Friday speech announcing his decision to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, the broadcast networks all agreed that the American commander-in-chief was being “hawkish” and “fierce” against the “very moderate” Iranian regime, even declaring that the decision “has isolated the United States.”

“Well, this was a incredibly hawkish speech. It seems like the United States, the Trump administration wants hostility with Iran,” warned NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel moments after the President finishing speaking. He explained to viewers: “The Obama administration was pursuing a path of reconciliation, that’s why it engaged in this deal, which was endorsed by all of the United Nations.”

 

 

After noting that he “heard a lot of Israeli talking points” in Trump’s address, Engel worried: “I think at least in the short term it’s going to bring a lot of confusion, perhaps more tension, and perhaps even more violence.”

Not feeling like the Iranian perspective had been covered enough, Nightly News anchor Lester Holt turned to NBC’s Tehran Bureau Chief Ali Arouzi, who agreed with Engel’s assessment:

I mean, the language coming out of the States is very hawkish, as Richard mentioned, and Iran[ians] are going to become very defensive here. The very moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani is set to give a speech tonight, they say that they are going to counter everything President Trump has had [sic]. And he’s been forced to take a more hawkish position. Detente was his way forward, but now, he’s had to side with the Revolutionary Guard...

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During ABC’s special report on the White House speech, Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos declared: “Fierce words there from President Trump for the Iranian regime and Iran nuclear deal, calling it a ‘fanatical regime,’ a ‘rogue regime,’ ‘the world’s greatest sponsor of terror.’”

Chief Global Affairs Anchor Martha Raddatz joined the coverage and recited Iranian propaganda: “And the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, ‘Any move against Islamic Republic armed forces, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, will lead to an equal and severe reaction by the Islamic Republic of Iran.’”

Touting that “all our allies opposed” the President’s decision to decertify the nuclear agreement with Iran, Stephanopoulos got reaction from Chief Foreign Correspondent Terry Moran, who asserted that America’s global status had been diminished:

That’s right, he has united the allies, who are often at odds with one another. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, and the European Union, are all united, they say President Trump is wrong, Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal. And they also say that they will stick with it. Right now, the President has isolated the United States when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal....the President has really set the United States against our closest allies when it comes to the Iran deal.

Reporting live from Tehran for CBS’s special coverage, correspondent Elizabeth Palmer cited Iran’s concern that the U.S. would lose “credibility” because of the move:

The Iranians’ position all along has been, “We are living up to this deal,” that’s backed up by the European signatories to it. And President Rouhani’s position all week has been, “Look, if the U.S. decides not to abide by the terms of the deal on its end, that’s just gonna damage American credibility internationally.”

Moments later, she asked: “What is Iran gonna do?” Answering her own question, Palmer remarked: “It’s not clear yet. President Rouhani, the moderate president of Iran, is going to speak on national television later tonight, so we may have an inkling.”

Continuing to channel the Iranian regime, Evening News anchor Anthony Mason fretted: “Liz, the Iranians, as part of this deal, handed over ten tons of enriched uranium. And some officials there have suggested if you want to break the deal, you better give it back.” Palmer chuckled and replied: “Well, they may not want to ask for it back, because one of the things they’ll want to demonstrate is they can make plenty more. That it’s just because they’re being honorable that they’re refraining from.”

Here are excerpts of the October 13 network coverage:

NBC News Special Report
1:12 PM ET

(...)

LESTER HOLT: President Trump making remarks at the White House, saying that he will not certify Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and threatening to terminate that deal if the administration can’t work out something with Congress to further rein in Iran and its ability to, at some point, develop a nuclear weapon.

I want go right now to Richard Engel, our Chief Foreign Correspondent, who’s been watching along with me. What is the practical impact of what the President has laid out for now in terms of more sanctions and the threat of pulling out of this deal?

RICHARD ENGEL: Well, this was a incredibly hawkish speech. It seems like the United States, the Trump administration wants hostility with Iran. The Obama administration was pursuing a path of reconciliation, that’s why it engaged in this deal, which was endorsed by all of the United Nations. But the Trump administration is now signaling that Obama made a mistake and that it will not continue. This weakens the deal tremendously. I think a lot of people around the world are going to wonder if now this deal can actually survive.

Europe has made it clear it wants the deal to survive, countries in the Middle East, however – and I think that’s where this – where President Trump might be getting a lot of his influence in this speech. I heard a lot of Saudi undertones, I heard a lot of Israeli talking points in the speeches that he was making. So I think in some parts of the Middle East you’re gonna see a lot of people celebrating what the President just heard [sic]. Europe not liking this whatsoever. And Iran now trying to figure out what happens next.

At the end of his speech, the President said he hopes that this will ultimately bring more stability, more prosperity to the Middle East. But I think at least in the short term it’s going to bring a lot of confusion, perhaps more tension, and perhaps even more violence.

HOLT: And Richard Engel, just before we go and get some reaction from Iran, we should note that there are other countries that are party to this. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China all parties to this nuclear agreement.

I do want to go to Ali Arouzi right now, he is our NBC Bureau Chief there in Tehran, he’s got reaction from Iran itself. Late at night, but I’m sure all the key people were watching this, Ali.

ALI AROUZI: That’s right, Lester. There’s people who have been on tender hooks anticipating what President Trump is going to be saying. And the Iranian regime saying firstly that if he decertifies this, that’s a step towards breaking the deal apart. The very powerful leader of Iran’s parliament said that if America walk[s] away from this deal it’s essentially over, there’s really no deal to be had.

And they’ve also taken a very hard line on the President’s position on the IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard here. Iran has said that if the U.S. comes down hard on the IRGC their response is going to be crushing as well. A very senior commander in the Guard today was very quick to say that, you know, “If the Trump administration tried to needle us, we’ve dealt with many people like Trump before, we’ve buried them before and we know how to defeat America.” So they’re setting themselves up for a fight with America.

I mean, the language coming out of the States is very hawkish, as Richard mentioned, and Iran[ians] are going to become very defensive here. The very moderate administration of Hassan Rouhani is set to give a speech tonight, they say that they are going to counter everything President Trump has had [sic]. And he’s been forced to take a more hawkish position. Detente was his way forward, but now, he’s had to side with the Revolutionary Guard that he had been critical about during the deal. And now he’s had to side with them, support them fully, and say any actions against them will be taken very seriously in this country. But the President did stop short of naming them a foreign terrorist organization, which might calm things down slightly. Lester?

HOLT: Alright, Ali Arouzi there with fresh reaction from Tehran.

(...)

 

ABC News Special Report
1:11 PM ET

(...)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Fierce words there from President Trump for the Iranian regime and Iran nuclear deal, calling it a “fanatical regime,” a “rogue regime,” “the world’s greatest sponsor of terror.” As you see the President walk out of the Diplomatic Room right there. The President said he would decertify that Iran nuclear deal and impose tough new sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

I want to bring that to our Chief Global Affairs Anchor Martha Raddatz. And, Martha, you were in Iran when this deal was reached. It doesn’t appear that the President went far enough to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a sponsor of terrorism as a terrorist organization, but did call for those new sanctions. That is what the Iranian regime is likely to be most opposed to.

RADDATZ: I think that’s exactly right, George. The decertification I know they were expecting, and they certainly won’t like that. They will think that break’s the spirit of the deal from their eyes. But as for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, we’ve already gotten reaction just before this speech. They’ve certainly read about possibly what President Trump was going to say today. And the Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “Any move against Islamic Republic armed forces, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, will lead to an equal and severe reaction by the Islamic Republic of Iran.” George?

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ll see what they do.

Terry Moran, our Chief Foreign Correspondent, in London. And Terry, the President said he reached this decision after consultations with our allies, but all our allies opposed.

TERRY MORAN: That’s right, he has united the allies, who are often at odds with one another. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, and the European Union, are all united, they say President Trump is wrong, Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal. And they also say that they will stick with it. Right now, the President has isolated the United States when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal. They will go forward trading with Iran. And the likelihood that if eventually the United States gets out of this deal, that President Trump or any president could convince these allies to slap sanctions once again on Iran is very, very slim. So the President has really set the United States against our closest allies when it comes to the Iran deal.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In fact, the sanctions were sort of falling apart when this deal was first reached.

(...)


CBS News Special Report
1:11 PM ET

(...)

ANTHONY MASON: President Trump citing multiple violations by Iran of the nuclear deal, which was ratified in 2015, saying that he will decertify that deal, effectively kicking it back to Congress. He went on to say, “If we can’t reach a deal with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated.” We are joined by Elizabeth Palmer, who is in Iran at the moment. Liz, what do you think the reaction in Tehran is going to be where they’ve said they have no intention of renegotiating this deal?

ELIZABETH PALMER: Well, first of all, it will have come as a shock to millions of Iranians tonight to learn that the regime was on the verge of collapse in 2015 when the deal was signed. That’s not a reality that they would recognize at all, much as they might have wished it.

The Iranians’ position all along has been, “We are living up to this deal,” that’s backed up by the European signatories to it. And President Rouhani’s position all week has been, “Look, if the U.S. decides not to abide by the terms of the deal on its end, that’s just gonna damage American credibility internationally.”

As for the sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard, all he said so far is taking action against the Guards would be, as he put it, “the mother of all mistakes.” So fairly aggressive rhetoric.
            
What is Iran gonna do? It’s not clear yet. President Rouhani, the moderate president of Iran, is going to speak on national television later tonight, so we may have an inkling. And of the bottom line is, does Iran use this move by President Trump as a reason for itself deciding, “That’s it, we’re out of the deal.”

MASON: Liz, the Iranians, as part of this deal, handed over ten tons of enriched uranium. And some officials there have suggested if you want to break the deal, you better give it back.

PALMER: [Laughs] Well, they may not want to ask for it back, because one of the things they’ll want to demonstrate is they can make plenty more. That it’s just because they’re being honorable that they’re refraining from. But if they wanted more, they can just turn their centrifuges back on and make some.

(...)


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