It would be a "disaster" for Joe Biden to return to the Iran nuclear deal, as the pact reached in 2016 "helped create a humanitarian catastrophe of colossal scale across the Middle East," retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who served as one of President Donald Trump's national security advisers, said Tuesday.
"I think it's a fair criticism of the Obama administration foreign policy that its greatest achievement was the empowerment of Iran across the Middle East in a way that was disastrous for security in the region," McMaster told CNN. "It perpetuated the civil war, helped set conditions for the rise of ISIS, and allowed Iran to almost place a proxy army on the border of Israel."
McMaster also rejected arguments that Iran has moved closer to having a nuclear weapon now than it was before Trump pulled out of the international deal.
"That's if you trust Iran to have adhered to the deal, to begin with," said McMaster. "You have Iran now saying is, hey, we're going to violate this nuclear deal by reimplementing our nuclear program, which, by the way, they denied that they ever had. I think what was concerning about the Iran nuclear deal is its weakness, its weakness in terms of verification. The ink wasn't dry on the deal before Iran said these are the places you can't look at."
Meanwhile, McMaster said he'd advise Biden to focus on what the United States' alliances are with other countries and then galvanize them to work on the nation's biggest challenges.
"China's campaign of cooperation, coercion, and concealment are forms of economic aggression that put us at a significant disadvantage," said McMaster.
Other challenges will include Russia's campaign of political subversion against the United States and Europe, and the "castrophe" in the Middle East, he added.
"Alliances have to be more than a better atmosphere at cocktail parties with our European allies," said McMaster. "Some of our alliances are pretty strong and there will be elements of continuity in our alliance with Japan, for example, or you're seeing some of the breakthrough in the Middle East associated with the Abraham accords. I think the administration will want to not define its foreign policy only as in opposition to the Trump administration."
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