President Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise Tuesday with the announcement that the U.S. would leave the Iran nuclear agreement. But America’s exit does not cancel the deal altogether, Ehud Barak, the former Israeli defense minister and prime minister, told PBS NewsHour correspondent William Brangham.
Barak said he thought the 2015 agreement, known as theJoint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was “ a bad deal when it was made” — something Trump also said as he signed a memorandum terminating U.S. participation in the Iran agreement.
“But once it was signed it became a matter of fact,” Barak said, adding that he wasn’t sure Trump’s decision was the best way to make changes to the agreement, and that he believed the deal’s six other signatories would stay in the pact.
Here are some other highlights from the interview, tied to the release of Barak’s 2018 memoir, “My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace.”
- On peace with Palestine: “I’m quite confident that it will happen,” Barak said. But he said he has a “deep dispute” with how the government is currently approaching conflict with Israel’s neighbors, describing it as extremely pessimistic, self-victimizing and passive. That’s “very bad for statesmanship,” he said. “We have to take our fate in our hands. I’m not caring about the Palestinians, I’m caring about our own identity, future and security.”
- Will Israel and Iran engage in more serious conflict in Syria? Barak called recent developments — including a recent dispute over an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base — “disturbing.” Still, he said, “we don’t have any interest in accelerating” what’s happening in Syria, though he added that “we have to make sure we win [a war] if it’s imposed upon us.”