Trump destroys the Iran deal — and a lot more

By | May 8, 2018

Robin Wright writes:

After months of threatening, President Trump withdrew from the historic Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, unravelling the Obama Administration’s signature foreign-policy achievement and putting the United States on a collision course with allies as well as with Tehran. “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” the President said. “It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.” Trump also announced that the United States is re-imposing economic sanctions on Iran and, over time, on companies in other countries that do business with the Islamic Republic.

Trump said that he was prepared to negotiate a new deal, but it would have to cover several issues beyond Iran’s controversial nuclear program—including Tehran’s ballistic-missile program, its support for extremist groups, and other “malign” activities in the wider Middle East. In a rebuke to Trump, however, the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany expressed “regret” over Trump’s decision and vowed to remain in the pact, which also includes Russia and China. “We urge all sides to remain committed to its full implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility,” they said. China also indicated that it would adhere to the accord.

In an initial reaction, Iran also appeared to reject new negotiations—and indicated that it might even stick to the original agreement, which curtails significant aspects of its nuclear program. President Hassan Rouhani said that his government would review the prospects of continuing to collaborate with the other five signatories of the pact, formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or J.C.P.O.A.

“If, at end of this short period time, if we come to the conclusion that with the collaboration of five countries it is feasible to attain what the Iranian people wish, despite the views of the U.S. and Zionist regime and also the impolite remarks by Trump, we should see whether it is possible to just keep up with J.C.P.O.A. and also take steps in line with regional peace and tranquility,” he said. (Iran refers to Israel as “the Zionist regime.”) But Rouhani—who won office in 2013, on a platform of negotiating a nuclear deal with the United States and getting a reprieve from economic sanctions in return—also suggested that Tehran was prepared for “subsequent measures, if needed,” including “starting industrial enrichment without limitations.”

Trump’s decision means that, technically, the United States is the first nation to violate the accord. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the U.N. nuclear watchdog, has issued ten reports that Tehran is in full compliance with its obligations. Iran is under the toughest inspections and verification-inspections regimes ever imposed in an arms-control deal. In a rare public comment on Trump’s foreign policy, former President Barack Obama noted that the right to inspections disappears if the agreement ends. [Continue reading…]

Roger Cohen writes:

America has made a mockery of the value of its signature on an international agreement. The world will take note.

Nothing in Trump’s speech was more scurrilous than this very Orwellian inversion of the truth: “If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.” In fact, Trump has single-handedly fast-forwarded that race by removing the constraints the deal imposed on Iran.

The Washington Post reports:

Rouhani’s first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said earlier Tuesday that the government has “a plan for managing the country under any circumstances.” In remarks reported by Iran’s Tasnim News Agency, Jahangiri, a popular reformist, said it would be “naive” to enter into negotiations with the United States again.

The comments underscored a growing debate among political factions in Iran over what to do after the U.S. withdrawal. Some politicians have urged the government to continue to work with Europe to salvage the accord.

“If the Europeans are willing to give us sufficient guarantees, it makes sense for us to stay in the deal,” the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, Ali Motahari, said in remarks carried by the Iranian Students’ News Agency.

Motahari said Iran should wait several months to see whether Europe plans to resist U.S. pressure to disengage from the Iranian economy, where European companies have invested in sectors ranging from auto manufacturing to oil exploration and tourism.

If Europe succeeds, “this is a victory for Iran, because it will have created a gap between the United States and Europe,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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