I watched the broadcast of President Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday about the Iran nuclear deal (“Trump declares U.S. leaving ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear accord,” StarTribune.com). He cited Iran’s sponsorship and/or involvement in terrorist activities in the Middle East as reasons to withdraw from the agreement. As true as Iran’s involvement might be, it is my opinion that it is not sufficiently relevant to pull out of the nuclear deal. Yes, terrorism must not be permitted, but nuclear weapons represent a separate issue.

Trump said our Western allies support him in this decision. However, within the past two to three weeks, leaders of Great Britain, France and Germany all spoke out against withdrawal. Trump’s own staff informed him that Iran has not failed to uphold its end of the deal.

Trump said that “in a very short time,” Iran, according to the deal, will be allowed to further its nuclear weapons program. That also is untrue. The terms of the agreement specify that in 15 years, should all else have gone well, Iran can continue development of peaceful uses of nuclear power — the generation of electricity, for one.

Trump said “America will not be held hostage” by terrorist countries. His withdrawal from this agreement jeopardizes the release of five U.S. citizens who are being held in Iran.

Trump said that at that moment Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on his way to North Korea to prepare for upcoming meetings with Kim Jong Un. While it would be great to have better relations with North Korea, what relevance does Pompeo’s flight have to the Iran nuclear deal, and, most important, why should an enemy of nearly 70 years make a peace agreement with a nation that, on the basis of incorrect “facts,” breaks its commitments to peace with others?

Trump’s decision was a blow to a peaceful future with all nations.

Loren Brabec, Braham, Minn.

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How do we stop Iran from restarting its nuclear weapons program now that Trump has taken the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action? The JCPOA, signed by China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, had one goal: stopping Iran from producing a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency inspections confirm that Iran is keeping its end of the deal. The JCPOA has prevented Iran from moving ahead with nuclear weapons. All of the other signatories believe it is working and strongly lobbied Trump to stay in the deal.

Why did Trump pull us out of a deal that was working and making the world a safer place? What is the plan for constraining Iran now? By unilaterally pulling out of the JCPOA with no new deal to replace it, Trump is making a nuclear Iran more likely and more immediate. His decision strengthens hard-liners in Iran, increases destabilization of the Middle East, drives a wedge between the U.S. and its allies, and may make a denuclearization deal with North Korea less likely. Given the president’s threats and impetuous behavior, this could also pull the U.S. into military action against Iran.

Mary Anderson, Minneapolis

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Trump’s decision had nothing to do with Iran and everything to do with erasing President Barack Obama’s legacy. Trump’s antipathy toward Obama knows no bounds, even if it results in such shortsighted decisions.

Robert Wheeler, Minneapolis

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In a move that reverses another Obama-era disaster, Trump announced our withdrawal from the Iranian treaty. A most-embarrassing, one-sided treaty that gave the Iranians a leg up on nuclear armament has been identified and negated. The process of correcting this Obama/John Kerry mistake will serve as the foundation for a more meaningful resolution. This, along with the U.S. pullout of the Paris climate accord and the unraveling the Obamacare mandate, will go a long way toward “making America great again.” I sincerely hope the Democrats and their supportive media move further left, thus giving more Americans a clear choice for the midterms.

Joe Polunc, Cologne

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The idea that Trump should receive the Nobel Peace Prize is ludicrous. North Korean President Kim Jong Un himself has called “misleading” claims that Trump drove him to the negotiating table. Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement infuriated our allies. His ill-informed and incorrect decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem all but destroyed the prospects for a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict and further angered our friends abroad. Now, he has announced a withdrawal from the Iran deal, which is certain to further alienate the U.S. from the world community and has the great potential to lead to armed conflict in the region.

The Trump presidency has been a disaster from day one, internationally and domestically.

Joseph R. Humsey, Woodbury

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There may not have been any collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but there are unquestioned financial ties between Trump and Russia. Trump’s own son spoke to how much money they source from Russia when banks won’t touch them. Real estate deals, for both the Trump and Kushner organizations, often at inflated, above-market prices, reek of money laundering. Trump has flipped real estate at inflated prices to Russian buyers. This is known. His commerce secretary sits on the board of the Bank of Cyprus, notorious for laundering Russian money.

Beyond the financial ties, I would love to know what Trump’s link to Russian President Vladimir Putin really is, because it seems that he’s in Putin’s pocket whether because Putin has something on him or he’s there of his own volition. Putin’s agenda is to drive wedges between the Western allies, and Trump’s behavior serves that master in spades. Out of the gate, Trump went after NATO. He backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a wedge between the U.S., Japan and South Korea and others in the region. He backed out of the Paris climate accord. Another wedge. And Tuesday, he backed out of the Iran nuclear deal unilaterally, replacing something with nothing. I would argue that none of these actions benefited the U.S. On the contrary, they demonstrably undercut U.S. interests and those of our allies. And they demonstrably serve Putin’s known strategy. So what’s going on? Given the insanity that has been the Trump administration, I find his behavior to be perilously close to crossing the line into treason.

John F. Hetterick, Plymouth


Remembering Ray Szmanda

In 1998, I was working in the marketing department for the “entry systems division” of Pella Corp. Menards had just picked up our storm door line and would sell the products chainwide. It was a big win for the company. Our factory people in Clear Lake, Iowa, and in Story City, Iowa, needed to work long and hard to manufacture the thousands of storm doors needed to fill the Menards pipeline. They’d done just that, so we decided to print some T-shirts for the factory team, to thank them and to commemorate their accomplishment. I suggested we hire Ray Szmanda — “The Menards Guy” — to come to Iowa and hand them out. My boss told me to make it happen.

It took a few phone calls, but I found Ray at his home in Antigo, Wis., and he eagerly accepted my invitation to fly down and do the gig. His fee was $1,250 — a very reasonable sum for the time. I drove from my office in St. Paul and met him at the Mason City airport. I’d be the guy showing him around.

Ray was friendly, gracious, enthusiastic and totally cooperative. He did everything we asked of him, and frankly, as he’d been coming off an illness of some kind, as I look back, I think we might have overworked him a bit. But Ray wasn’t complaining. I’d informed the local media “The Menards Guy” would be in town, and you’d have thought Paul McCartney was showing up. There was TV coverage at 5 p.m. with “more about Pella’s contract with Menards at 6.” That night over dinner at Bennigan’s — really the only game in town at the time — Ray patiently and politely chatted with each of the roughly dozen people who came up and asked him “Are you ‘The Menards Guy’ ”? It had been a great day.

I fondly reminisced about all of this as I read that Ray had passed away (“Bubbly pitchman embraced his home improvement fame,” May 8). I’m not sure if there’s much work for spokespeople in the afterlife (or if there needs to be), but every place can always use another great guy. Rest in peace, Ray!

Michael Gottsacker, St. Paul