FIRST ON FOX: In an open letter to President Biden Wednesday, 46 retired U.S. generals and admirals voiced their opposition to the ongoing negotiations with Iran on striking a nuclear deal.
“In Ukraine, we are bearing witness to the horrors of a country ruthlessly attacking its neighbor and, by brandishing its nuclear weapons, forcing the rest of the world largely to stand on the sidelines,” the letter, penned in coordination with the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), said. “The new Iran deal currently being negotiated, which Russia has played a central role in crafting, will enable the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to cast its own nuclear shadow over the Middle East.
Top military officials expressed concern that the Biden administration’s determination to re-enter a nuclear deal with Tehran could weaken the U.S.’s position to hold Iran accountable.
Despite warnings from member nations like the U.K., France and Germany, the U.S. abandoned the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 under the Trump administration over what it regarded as weak points in the deal.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), did not report that Tehran had violated the JCPOA, but Iran’s continued deployment of ballistic missiles – capable of carrying a nuclear warhead – prompted the U.S. to withdraw from the agreement.
Retired Air Force Gen. Charles Wald, who also formerly served as deputy commander of U.S, European Command, said he supports finding a solution to the nuclear issue in the Middle East through diplomacy, but argued no deal is better than a bad deal.
“The idea of an agreement is a good idea. We agree with diplomacy,” Wald told Fox News. “But we agreed with a fair agreement that would not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon breakout and then have weapons delivery systems that would then change the dynamic in the Middle East – particularly for Israel but all other countries too.”
Wald said one of his chief concerns with the latest deal is that the Biden administration is not considering Iran’s role in fueling terrorism and backing rebel groups in the war in Yemen – a war that has prompted one of the greatest humanitarian crises.
President Biden made re-entering a nuclear agreement with Iran a chief priority of his administration and indirect talks through European allies have been on and off for roughly a year.
But reports surfaced late last month suggesting the administration was considering a request from Iran to remove its top military branch, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
In exchange, the U.S. has called on Iran to end its support for terrorist organizations fueling unrest in the region – but several groups from Iranian American scientists to retired military commanders have little faith Iran will live up to this commitment.
“That’s a red flag,” Wald said in reference to removing the IRGC as a designated terrorist group. “That just doesn’t sit well with us because the IRGC is the most malicious group in the region.”
The retired general said the death of 600 U.S. military members could be attributed “directly” to IRGC, and noted they continue to attack U.S. and allied forces in the region.
Talks between western nations and Iran appeared to be stalled and officials involved in the negotiations remain tight-lipped on deal specifics.
Wald said he would need to see “unfettered access by the IAEA” and assurances that Iran will not continue with its ballistic missile system even if a nuclear agreement is reached, in order for him to support a deal with Iran.
“The Iranians will push up to the point where they know something bad is going happen to them,” Wald continued. “So the more difficult we make for them to operate with impunity, the more they’re going to take advantage of it.”