World leaders are responding with shock and disappointment at President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal (the JCPoA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Trump stated that he would restore the pre-JCPoA “highest level of sanctions” on Iran.
In 2015, under the JCPoA, Iran entered into an agreement with the U.S., the U.K., Russia, Germany, France, and China, to significantly reduce its stores of nuclear weapon components. These included enriched uranium, centrifuges, and heavy water. Iran had agreed to the JCPoA because the U.S., the U.N., and the E.U. had frozen billions of pounds in Iranian overseas assets, and imposed harsh sanctions that were estimated to cost Iran tens of billions of pounds per year in lost export oil revenue.
Claiming that there would be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if he allowed the JCPoA to stand, Trump also said that the U.S. “will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.”
According to journalist Christiane Amanpour, however, “nuclear blackmail” is exactly what Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPoA has opened the U.S. to.
“Remember that it was George W Bush…who decided to ditch the Clinton Administration’s deal with North Korea in the early 2000s. What did that do? They pulled out of the NP T (Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty), they kicked out the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors, and now they are conducting nuclear blackmail, because they actually do have nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. That is a possibility, going forward. That is what the president has opened the door to.”
To Trump’s proclamation of “We will not allow American cities to be threatened,” Amanpour points out that “It’s not Iran’s missile program, it’s North Korea’s missile program” that threatens American cities.
“This is exactly why North Korea is where it is today because of the same kind of hardball negotiating tactics that a U.S. president thought would be a success.”
France, Germany, and Britain urged Trump not to pull out of the agreement, and say that they will continue to keep their commitment to the JCPoA. Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, threatened that Iran may begin to enrich more uranium than ever if other countries participating in the JCPoA failed to negotiate with Iran.
Perhaps Trump’s description of the Iran nuclear deal as “decaying and rotting,” and the “worst deal the U.S. has ever signed,” provides the most insight into what motivated him to pull out of it: The JCPoA was put in place by the Obama administration. Perhaps even more important to Trump than “keeping America safe” is achieving his apparent goal to obliterate any and all Obama-era policies, and the JCPoA was, in fact, Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement.
Amanpour: How does pulling out of Iran deal make US safe? | CNN [2018-05-08]
Obama rips Trump decision to leave Iran deal | Fox News [2018-05-08]