US President Donald Trump, like many of his impulsive decisions scrapped the Iran nuclear deal on May 08. Trump has called it the “worst deal ever negotiated” and wanted Britain, France and Germany — co-signatories, along with Russia, China and the European Union — to toughen up its terms. In announcing his decision , Trump blasted the deal as “defective at its core.” He further added that “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.” His primary complaint is that the 2015 pact, which was originally conceived as a starting point for better relations between Iran and the West, doesn’t extend beyond 2025. He also criticized the deal for failing to address other concerns about Iran, such as its ballistic missile program or its support of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, its military aid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its role in the war in Yemen. Although Trump has been emphatic in his opposition to the deal, he was less clear about what should replace it or how far the U.S. is willing to go to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions or its regional aggression.
Trump’s hard line on nuclear deal with Iran echoes Isreal’s stand on the issue. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had alleged a weak earlier that “Iran lied” about its nuclear weapon ambitions in the 2000s, although the information he shared seemed to match up with what nuclear inspectors had already reported about Tehran’s program.
Analysts commenting on the decision pointed out that it will make it harder for Iran to engage with the international community and could empower hard-liners in Tehran. Some other analysts also warned that the decision also risks weakening trust in the United States, raising questions about whether Washington can be taken at its word, and could potentially bolster hard-liners in Tehran who are pushing an agenda of Middle East aggression. Under the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the United States committed to ease a series of sanctions on Iran and has done so under a string of “waivers” that effectively suspend them. Failure to renew waivers means the sanctions will be restored, but under U.S. law the White House must allow a 90-day or 180-day period to allow companies to withdraw from any contracts or financial transactions involving Iran. The waiver that was due for renewal on May 12 covered Iran’s central bank and was intended at limiting Iran’s oil exports. Other waivers are due for renewal in July. In his televised address on Tuesday, Trump said the United States would impose the “highest-level” economic sanctions on the Iranian regime, suggesting that he intends to scrap all of the waivers. Restoring sanctions amounts to a U.S. breach of the original deal whereas Iran was deemed to be compliant, according to international nuclear inspectors.
Meanwhile President Hassan Rouhani says he’ll stick to the deal even without the U.S., while European leaders issued a joint statement expressing “regret and concern.” It must be recalled the parties that signed or favoured a nuclear deal with Iran and for removing economic sanctions were quite unhappy on Donald Trump’s decision from the very beginning. More than 500 parliamentarians from France, Germany and the UK have written to their US counterparts urging them to persuade Donald Trump not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal. In a joint statement published in the Guardian, Der Spiegel, the New York Times and Le Monde, they urged a White House rethink before the 12 May deadline set by Trump to pull out of the deal, known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), unless Europe can come up with a new policy that will meet his concerns. “The US government threatens to abandon the JCPOA, although Iran fulfils its obligations under the agreement,” the letter said. They warn that “an exit from the US would have fatal consequences”. It may be recalled that France, Germany and the UK negotiated the landmark deal in 2015 that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for strict limits on its nuclear programme, and are using all their leverage to try to persuade Trump that the deal is salvageable.