U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to “decertify” the multi-lateral nuclear agreement with Iran next week, according to reports. Washington must periodically assess the agreement, and the Trump administration has done so twice since taking office. But all of that could change, and potentially lead to the unraveling of the deal.
CGTN’s Nathan King reports.
In July 2015, Iranians took to the streets of Tehran to celebrate the nuclear deal, which promised to end a decade of punitive sanctions and isolation.
Two years later, Iranians returned to those same streets when the new American president decried the agreement in front of the world.
“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump said. “Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it.”
None of the other world powers that signed the nuclear agreement share this view, and even some of Trump’s own cabinet members believe the deal is working.
After Trump made those remarks, U.S. Secretary of Rex Tillerson met his Iranian counterpart for the first time at the UN.
The take home message was clear.
“There is no need to renegotiate parts of the agreement, because the agreement is concerning a nuclear program and as such is delivering,” EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said. “We have all agreed on the fact that there is no violation [and] that the nuclear program related aspects, which is all the agreement, are being fulfilled.”
But the Trump administration feels confined by the agreement. Many of the president’s allies think the deal lifted sanctions too quickly, doesn’t do enough to limit research and development of nuclear weapons, and will allow Iran to quickly build a weapon if it wants to.
Washington also wants Tehran’s behavior throughout the Middle East to be considered, including its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, backing Shiite militia in Iraq, and alleged support for the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Additionally, the White House wants limits on Iranian ballistic missiles, which are not covered by the deal. Decertifying the nuclear deal will likely be part of a far more confrontational overall policy against Tehran.
Decertifying the nuclear agreement doesn’t necessarily means it is dead, however. It would be up to the U.S. Congress, not the White House, to re-instate sanctions on Iran.
Pulling back from the Iran deal is a big potential problem for the U.S. when it comes to global trust. If the U.S. withdraws from yet another international deal, especially a nuclear one, countries will question whether they can place any faith in Washington’s words during future negotiations.