July 18, 2017

Trump’s Incoherent Iran Policy Could End the Nuke Deal on the Worst Possible Terms

President Donald Trump’s decision on Monday to certify that Iran is still abiding by the terms of the nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — a decision that prevents the reimposition of U.S. proliferation-related sanctions on Iran — would seem to be good news for supporters of the nuclear agreement. However, stories that Trump spent an hour arguing with his entire national security team about whether to certify and only reluctantly agreed to continue the nuclear agreement should be of grave concern. Indeed, Trump’s behavior and the administration’s insistence on coupling every certification with over the top, belligerent rhetoric may be setting the United States up to walk away from the nuclear agreement on the worst terms possible.

The first problem is that in the event Trump decides to leave the agreement, the blame game will be critical. If the United States is blamed for the collapse by its P5+1 partners (Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia) and other key international actors, sanctions will be nearly impossible to reimplement. Many of America’s partners will continue to engage with Iran economically and call our bluff, daring the United States to sanction them. The end result will be an Iran that is no longer constrained by the nuclear obligations of the deal but is not under severe economic pressure.

Read the full article at Foreign Policy.