Ernest Moniz, one of the architects of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, said the deal offered a “much cleaner path” toward achieving US interests in the region than President Trump’s current hardline strategy.

“I think there was a much clearer path toward what [Trump] wanted by staying in the deal and negotiating. It was always clear that the option was there to negotiate on those regional challenges,” Moniz told Greater Boston Monday.

Moniz, now a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, was a key negotiator of the 2015 deal while he served as Secretary of Energy under President Barack Obama. As part of the deal, Iran agreed to both limit its nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Trump announced U.S. withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.

Moniz’s comments came amid heightened US tensions with Iran, following the US killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, a retaliatory attack on Iraqi bases housing US troops, and the downing of a Ukrainian commercial jet near Tehran which Iran's Revolutionary Guard later admitted to shooting down accidentally. Following Soleimai’s death, Iran announced it would no longer abide by the nuclear limits in the 2015 deal.

Despite those developments, Moniz said he believed one key component of the deal would live on: verification from international inspectors.

He cited the continued support of the deal’s European partners, who released a joint statement on Sundaycalling on Iran to stand by the deal, to support his views.

“Cleary, if [Iran] were to back away from the verification they would probably or risk certainly losing the Europeans, who are still trying at least to restore the agreement,” Moniz said.

Moniz also told host Jim Braude that he believed much of the opposition to the 2015 deal was “specious.”

“We can’t hide the fact that when we reached the agreement it wasn’t exactly that there was uniform praise,” he said. “It was pretty much split unfortunately along partisan lines. However, I believe the main reasons that were given to oppose the agreement and may have been part of the president’s thinking, are specious quite frankly."