President Donald Trump is on the verge of refusing to certify to Congress that Iran is abiding by its obligations under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) thus jeopardizing the deal. If the president chooses this course of action and shifts responsibility to Congress to reimpose sanctions, one of his primary rationales for why the agreement must be renegotiated are the so-called sunset provisions, which allow important restraints on Iran’s nuclear program especially with regards to uranium enrichment to begin phasing out in roughly six years and many others to come off gradually within thirteen years from now.
We agree that the sunset provisions are a real problem and a serious limitation of the JCPOA that ought be addressed, but walking away from the agreement today is not the way to do it. If Congress reinstates sanctions now over the objections of virtually all of America’s key partners it will practically unite the international community against it, resulting in the reimposition of a weak and leaky international sanctions regime or with a bitter trade dispute with its closest allies in an effort to make them toe the line. With this weak hand, the notion that Iran will acquiesce to a more restrictive deal than it did two years ago, when the international community was unified and sanctions were brutally squeezing it is fanciful.
Read the full op-ed in The National Interest.