Politics

Pence Says Trump Will Oppose Tyranny and Rip Up Iran Deal

Vice president suggests chief executive is close to decertifying predecessor's agreement that lets Shiite theocracy continue developing nukes

Vice President Mike Pence said President Donald Trump is likely to rip up his predecessor’s Iran nuclear deal — a surprise tidbit he dropped into a speech Thursday to enthusiastic conservatives eager to hear the chief executive’s most loyal lieutenant recount the victories of the past year.

“This country will no longer certify the disastrous Iran nuclear deal,” Pence told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

The threat not to recertify the Iran deal, as has to be done every 90 days, will likely spur outraged liberals to furious lobbying in Washington, D.C., but the deal is also defended by some Trump appointees, most notably his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.

The multinational deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — allows Iran to maintain its nuclear program and uranium enrichment system. Trump has long derided the deal, approved by Obama in October 2015. But Trump has not decertified the deal. In the second week of January, Trump recertified it, easing some sanctions on Iran.

But the deal may be on its last legs: Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi recently said his nation would abandon the deal because too many major banks were ignoring business with the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the agreement.

Pence’s strong rhetoric on foreign policy often brought the cheering crowd of thousands at CPAC to its feet. The annual CPAC convention has been held in the Washington region since 1974, and it brings thousands of conservative leaders, activists and students together for three days of speeches, forums, dinners, boot camps, and seminars.

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On Thursday morning, it was where Pence took a victory lap, telling CPAC that the previous year was full of “promises made, promises kept.”

One major promise was to make good on an existing federal law that Trump finally implemented: the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, and a plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel there. The boast brought hundreds to their feet.

Pence promised that Trump and he would keep fighting, especially on illegal immigration and security enhancements along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Make no mistake about it, we’re going to build that wall,” said Pence, which brought chanting and hundreds of people to their feet.

Pence often hit the notes for the crowd of many anti-abortion activists in attendance, promising Trump’s commitment to the “inalienable right to life” and reminding the CPAC crowd that Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

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The president also delivered on promises to approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, and to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

But even as Pence boasted of the major tax reform and 4.3 million raises or bonuses for U.S. workers, it seemed Pence reserved his strongest comments for foreign policy. He mocked the liberal mainstream media for playing up the diplomatic efforts of North Korea at the Winter Olympics, and for seeming to be sympathetic to the diplomacy of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister.

Pence, who attended the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, said he did not regret looking stern at times sitting near Kim’s sister.

“For all those in the media who think I should have stood and cheered with her, I say the United States doesn’t stand with murderous dictatorships,” said Pence to applause. “We stand up to them.”

Pence said Trump will insist North Korea abandon its nuclear missile program and end threats against the United States and allies.

Looking toward the midterm elections of 2018, Pence touted the growing economy and noted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mocked the bonuses and raises as “crumbs.” Pelosi even labeled the tax reform package, now polling as popular, as “Armageddon.”

Pence urged the CPAC attendees to stay active to support the White House and to support the Republicans in the elections.

“Progress is driven by people who show up,” said Pence. “America is counting on us.”

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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