Every 90-days, the President is supposed to ‘certify’ the terms of the Iran Nuclear Deal deal so as to reaffirm US commitment. Trump has already recertified it twice since becoming President. On Friday, October 13th, he announced his decision not to recertify the agreement. He offered a dilemma to Congress: draft new requirements to strengthen it, or else I’m leaving it.
“We will not continue down a path” Trump said during a White House speech, “whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s Nuclear breakthrough.” He spoke in reference to the Iran Nuclear Deal, which is an international agreement spearheaded by the P5 + 1 and European Union. The P5 + 1 refers to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – The United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany.
Donald Trump’s rhetoric once again does not reflect reality. He claims that regional stability is in jeopardy because of the deal, when in fact, regional stability would be jeopardized in the very near future without it.
The Iran Nuclear Deal, also called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was endorsed by over 90 countries of the world. It was passed unanimously by the UN Security Council in 2015 after years of tough negotiations with all the parties involved.
Uranium and plutonium are radioactive materials used to make nuclear weapons. They go through an enrichment process that allows them to become weapons-grade. The agreement forced Iran to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and to stop producing weapons-grade plutonium in their Arak reactor (the only one capable of enriching plutonium). Prior to the deal, Iran was 2 months away from their first weapon, which would have begun a Middle East arms race. After implementation, Iran still does not have a nuclear weapon, and their nuclear research and development capabilities will be heavily limited for 15 years. Some restrictions, like UN 24/7 inspection and access measures are in effect for 25 years. If any of the terms are violated by Iran or any parties involved, a “snapback” will occur, meaning that the deal becomes null and crippling economic sanctions will be imposed on Iran. In exchange for Iran’s cooperation, Iranian markets can do business with the West. This has benefitted the Iranian economy greatly, so their incentive is to maintain the terms.
If Trump were to scrap the deal, which he has threatened to do, US influence and control of the situation will be diminished. He will push Iran to the brink, and on top of ramping up their nuclear program, their government will likely seek sympathy points from other governments in the region and the world, which will further the risk of them assembling a nuclear weapon in a shorter period of time.
He also says that Iran is not following the “spirit” of the deal, what does that even mean? UN Inspectors have gone into Iran since implementation and confirmed that Iran is following the terms of the agreement. The Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, has said that “I can state that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the (nuclear agreement) are being implemented”.
There are valid criticisms, such as the fact that the agreement only provides limited access to Iranian military installations, and, that it is temporary. However, the state of international politics indicates that the terms are probably as good as they can realistically get. Several of the administration’s own national security aides, such as Defense Secretary James N. Mattis have voice their support for the agreement. Not to mention that the consensus among foreign policy experts is that the JCPOA is a step in the right direction.
The leaders of the United Kingdom, France and Germany issued a joint statement that they remain committed to the deal due to the “shared national security interest”. They also strongly advise against leaving it, adding in their joint statement “we encourage the U.S. Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the U.S. and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the nuclear agreement”. Additionally, neither China nor Russia support Trump’s decision. This again leaves the President at odds with the majority of the large industrial nations, but that should serve as no surprise considering his past actions. He received criticism from almost every nation on Earth after leaving the Paris Agreement, and was roundly criticized for leaving NAFTA.
The ‘all or nothing’ attitude displayed by the President is not only politically impossible, but it’s irresponsible. He places our national security at risk once again, by engaging in unpredictable, ill-advised, and embarrassing behavior.
Penn State College