“The worst deal ever negotiated,” was President Donald Trump’s view of Barack Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement: a deal that placed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief. The agreement, signed in 2015 by Iran and six world powers, clumsily named the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (jcpoa), made it much harder for Iran to build an atom bomb, at least for a while. But it has been on life support ever since Mr Trump declared a year ago that he was withdrawing from it.
On May 8th Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, pushed it closer to death. Mr Rouhani said that Iran would stop complying with parts of the deal and warned that more breaches might follow. His announcement had an ominous backdrop. On May 5th America sent an aircraft-carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” of Iranian aggression. Two days later Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, unexpectedly turned up in Iraq, where America has long accused Iran of sponsoring attacks on American forces. The combination of a dissolving nuclear agreement and more sabre-rattling increases the risk that America and Iran will stumble into a war—whether by accident or design.
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