WATCH

Key Republican Says U.S. Should Salvage Iran Nuclear Deal 'Though Bad'

'I thought it was a bad deal, but the key question is what happens next if the U.S. pulls out? Does Iran kick out those inspectors so we lose the visibility we have?' asked Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry on Fox News

Rep. Mac Thornberry speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2018
\ AARON P. BERNSTEIN/ REUTERS

The Republican leader of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee said U.S. President Donald Trump should not walk away from the Iran nuclear deal.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Trump is facing a May 12 deadline on whether to re-impose sanctions against Iran. Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry said on Fox News Sunday it would be a mistake for Trump to scuttle the nuclear accord reached with Tehran. “I would counsel against it,” he said.

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Thornberry is considered a key Republican voice on national security issues. Thornberry said that while he was opposed to the deal when it was signed by the Obama Administration in 2015, exiting the agreement now would erode Washington’s leverage against Tehran.

Mac Thornberry Exclusive 5/6/18 |2 PM | Fox News | Breaking News May 6, 2018

>>What happens if Trump pulls out of the Iran deal? Analysis | Despite Iran's threats, Israeli army pushes aggressive line against Tehran in Syria | Analysis | Israel vs. Iran: Winds of war in Jerusalem – with backing from Washington | Analysis | Yes, Iran lied about its nuclear capabilities. But so did Israel | Opinion >>

“I thought it was a bad deal,” he said. “But the key question is, ok, what happens next if the U.S. pulls out? Does Iran kick out those inspectors so we lose the visibility we have?”

Trump has signaled he may tear up the 2015 deal and re-impose sanctions later this month. Trump Administration officials have said the nuclear accord fails to address Iran’s ballistic missile program and will allow Tehran to rebuild its nuclear program after some of its provisions expire.

Thornberry said that Trump should work with European allies to address these shortcomings in the accord. But scuttling the deal, he said, would take pressure off Iran by dividing Washington from its allies.

“The Europeans are not going to re-impose sanctions so where does that leave us and Iran?” he said.