Iran: Trump’s threat to end the nuclear deal
The Trump administration is “already struggling with a big nuclear problem in North Korea,” said David Ignatius in The Washington Post. So why does it want another one with Iran? Although the U.S. last week temporarily extended the sanctions relief granted Iran in its nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other nations, President Trump “is threatening to scuttle the deal altogether if Iran doesn’t offer concessions.” The White House wants tighter inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities and an end to the “sunset clause” that would allow Iran to resume its nuclear program in 10 to 15 years. Iran would very likely resume enriching weapons-grade uranium if the U.S. reneged on the deal, said Christiane Amanpour and Hilary Clarke in CNN.com. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned this week that reneging on the deal would also come at a “high cost” to U.S. credibility. If Trump abruptly quits his nation’s pact with Iran, Rouhani asked, why would the North Koreans—or any other nation—“waste their time” negotiating with the U.S.?
Trump’s instincts on this deal are right, said Jonathan Tobin in NationalReview.com. The Obama administration’s nuclear agreement “did not put an end to the Iranian threat; at best, it kicked the can down the road for a few years.” Inspectors say Iran is complying, but the country has already been caught in a number of small infractions, such as exceeding limits on its production of heavy water, suggesting the Iranians are “still on a path to a bomb.” Beyond that, Iran’s continuing support for terrorism and its meddling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon can no longer be ignored. If we want to contain the growing Iranian threat, “Trump will have to roll back the nuclear deal.”
“That take-it-or-leave-it approach was tried from 2000 to 2012,” said Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy.com. The result: Iran went from having zero centrifuges to more than 12,000. Cancel the deal and our only option for preventing the country from developing a nuclear weapon will be a preemptive war. Do we really want a major Middle East war? Canceling the deal wouldn’t improve Iran’s behavior one bit, said Zack Beauchamp in Vox.com. So why is Trump itching to do it? Simple: He sees the agreement as “Obama’s deal,” and he is determined to erase Obama’s legacy. So periodically admitting that Iran is complying makes Trump feel like “a cuck.” ■