Trump and the Rupture of the Iran Nuclear Agreement




Donald Trump has until Oct. 15 to certify that Tehran is complying with the agreement, but there are alarming indications that he plans not to.

The onslaught of President Donald Trump’s plans to reverse or abandon agreements of cooperation and interconnection with the rest of the world has been notable: the decision to leave the Paris agreement on climate change, and bragging that he will ditch NAFTA for being “a catastrophic trade deal for the United States” unless the rules of the game are reformulated so that his nation will no longer be “abused” by Mexico and Canada. These are some of the most illustrative examples of his isolationist political vision and have little grounding in reality.

Now the focus has switched to a different theme, the agreement on nuclear development which was signed two years ago between Iran and the P5+1.* Former President Barack Obama was one of the most important architects of the pact, along with the leaders of the European Union, Russia and China. President Trump, however, has until the 15th of this month to certify to Congress that Iran is complying with the agreement, but there are alarming indications that he plans not to. This despite both the International Atomic Energy Agency and U.S. military leaders having reported that Iran has not violated the agreed terms. Nevertheless, Trump’s refusal to certify would create an opening for the U.S. to leave the agreement, which would undoubtedly have dangerous and unpredictable consequences.

Warnings about the ominous international horizon, which could result from U.S. abandonment of the agreement, are coming from multiple fronts. More than 180 Democratic members of Congress have sent Trump a letter in which they urge the president to preserve the agreement, due to the fact that there is specific evidence Iran is complying with the its commitments, even though other areas not covered in the agreement continue to be a preoccupation − for example, the development of ballistic missiles, terrorist activities and violations of human rights. Important U.S. political figures such as Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright and Brent Scowcroft have also made similar statements. Furthermore, current Secretary of Defense James Mattis, on testifying to the Senate, asserted that preserving the pact was in the interests of national security.

Similar concerns have also come from outside the United States. In the European Union, there is consensus on this matter, while in Israel, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concurrence with Trump and arguments in favor of the rupture, many experts on the subject are convinced that abandoning the agreement would be a fatal error. Uzi Eilam, former director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, considers that the nuclear deal has been positive and made Israel and the world more secure. Carmi Gillon, former head of Shin Bet, Uzi Arad, former director of national security, and the military leaders Ami Ayalón, Israel Ziv and Guiora Inbar, among others, have all expressed similar opinions and all agree that the Iranian nuclear program has been successfully halted as a result of the agreement.**

Therefore, the coming days will mark a crucial moment in shaping the direction in which this issue of global importance will progress. As Trump is so eager to fulfill his campaign promises – which until now have proved to be beyond reach – the main concern has to be that his actions will be influenced by the objective of delivering a concrete achievement to his base no matter what dangerous consequences that may create.

*Editor’s note: P5+1 refers to the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members (China, France, Russian, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Germany.

**Editor’s note: Shin Bet is Israel’s internal security agency.

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