2020 Democrats slam Trump on his Iran strategy and diverge on whether they'd support Obama's nuclear deal

Saul Loeb/Getty ImagesNational Security Adviser John Bolton stands alongside US President Donald Trump as he speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, May 17, 2018.
  • 2020 Democrats on Wednesday slammed the Trump administration over recent tensions with Iran.
  • “This president and his chickenhawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an Iraq combat veteran, said during the first Democratic debate in Miami.
  • The candidates also diverged somewhat on the subject of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump controversially pulled the US out of in May 2018.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

MIAMI, FL – 2020 Democrats excoriated President Donald Trump over his Iran strategy during the first Democratic debate in Miami, Florida, on Wednesday night.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, an Iraq combat veteran, slammed what she characterised as Trump’s “chickenhawk Cabinet” over how it’s handled US-Iran relations.

“This president and his chickenhawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran,” Gabbard said. “The American people need to understand this war with Iran would be far more devastating, far more costly than anything that we ever saw in Iraq … This would turn into a regional war.”

And in what was seemingly meant to be an attack on Trump’s propensity for early morning tweets, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said, “This president is literally, every single day, 10 minutes away from going to war. One tweet away from going to war. And I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5:00 in the morning.”

Klobuchar also said she would renegotiate the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was orchestrated by the Obama administration. Defying key US allies, Trump pulled out of the deal in May 2018.

The Minnesota senator said the deal as negotiated by former President Barack Obama was “imperfect but it was a good deal for that moment.” In her view, the pact’s sunset clauses – parts of the deal that would expire after a certain period of time – should have been longer.

Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey was the only candidate out of the 10 on the stage to say he would not have signed onto the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as it was originally written.


Read more:
Here’s what’s in the landmark nuclear deal that Iran is starting to walk away from amid tensions with Trump

“I’m not going to have a primary platform to say, unilaterally, I’m going to rejoin that deal…If I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, I’m going to do it,” Booker said.

Amid the recent tensions, Iran announced it’s going to violate the nuclear deal by ramping up enrichment of low-grade uranium and increasing its uranium stockpile.

The discussion on Iran came less than a week after Trump abruptly pulled back on a military strike against Iran after it shot down a US Navy drone. Iran claimed the drone entered its airspace, though the Trump administration maintains the unmanned aerial vehicle was flying in international airspace.

The US and Iran have had a antagonistic relationship for decades, but tensions have reached new heights in the Trump era following the president’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. The Trump administration has attempted to push Iran into a corner with relentless sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

As Trump has proposed potentially holding talks to negotiate a new nuclear deal, Tehran has scoffed at the prospect of engaging in diplomacy with the US.

The US has also alleged Iran is responsible for a recent attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, though the Iranians have fervently denied this accusation. Experts told INSIDER that the attacks were likely carried out in a clandestine manner by Iran and designed to place pressure on US allies who rely on oil from the Middle East. One of the tankers was Japanese-owned, and the attacks occurred while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was visiting Iran.

Trump was on his way to Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday for the G20 summit. The tensions with Iran – and the fears of a new conflict in the Middle East – are poised to be a major topic of discussion as he meets with other global leaders.

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