July 07, 2015

Could a Republican President Undo an Iran Deal?

By Ilan Goldenberg

Source: Newsweek

Journalist(s) Emily Cadei

If the United States reaches a nuclear deal with Iran, as negotiators are scrambling to do this week (the deadline has been extended until Friday), the outcry from Republicans on the 2016 campaign trail is likely to be fierce. Some have already promised to undo any agreement reached with Iran, or at least roll it back significantly. “On January 20, 2017, if I were elected president I would pull back from this awful deal on the very first day,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told radio host Lars Larson last week. In reality, that’s highly unlikely.

Experts on the region and nuclear pacts say unraveling any deal once it goes into force will be fraught with diplomatic, financial and security risks that will make it all but impossible for a Republican president to just scrap it right off the bat. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush hinted as much in an op-ed on the conservative web site Townhall.com, though unlike Walker, he did not come out and say he’d rip an agreement on Day One. “Undoing the damage done by a fundamentally flawed nuclear deal will not be easy,” wrote Bush. But he insisted doing so is “essential for the security of the United States.” It’s more likely, however, that moves by Tehran—not Washington, D.C.—will either propel the nuclear deal forward or put it in jeopardy.

Iran has a history of testing the limits of its international agreements, particularly when it comes to its nuclear program, points out Ambassador Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Tensions over implementing the new deal, including different interpretations of the limitations, are inevitable. But “a lot depends on when they test the limits and in what ways they test the limits,” Ross says. He says if the Iranians are smart, they won’t try and test Washington until after some time into a new administration is in power. At that point, it would be up to the new administration how forcefully to push back.

Read the full article at Newsweek.

  • Ilan Goldenberg

    Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Ilan Goldenberg is Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is a foreign policy and defense expert with ext...