As if the upcoming nuclear summit with North Korea, the latest U.S. intervention in Syria, and President Trump’s controversial new national security team weren’t generating enough drama, the next few weeks could also seal the fate of the Iran nuclear deal.
Every three months since taking office, Trump has reluctantly extended what he has called the “worst deal ever,” but in January, he set a May 12 deadline for Congress and European allies to “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw”—meaning that the U.S.
will reimpose the sanctions lifted under the agreement. Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are visiting Trump next week and will attempt to persuade him to stay in the agreement.
While it’s generally agreed that Iran is in compliance with the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the U.S. administration has problems with it. Among its complaints are the fact that the agreement does little to address Iran’s ballistic missile program or wider regional activities and that there are too many restrictions on sites that can be accessed by international nuclear inspectors. Britain, France, and Germany have proposed new sanctions on Iran’s missiles and over its role in the war in Syria, meant to assuage Trump’s concerns, and the EU as a whole is reportedly getting closer to signing on. (The EU is a signatory of the JCPOA along with Iran, the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council, and Germany.) It may also be possible to push for more access for inspectors within the existing framework of the deal. Iran, along with China and Russia, will no doubt object to these measures, but they’re unlikely to pull out of the deal completely.
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