Trump walks out of Iranian nuclear deal

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Fahad Ali is perturbed about the unpredictable initiatives of the US President

Pandering to his constituency

In his usual casual manner President Donald Trump again stirred up the hornet’s nest when he announced US withdrawal from Iranian nuclear deal. President Trump very calculatingly panders to his gradually narrowing popular base that is wary of American involvement in international affairs. But while doing so he clearly ignores the contradiction inherent in such an action as it is very evident that by paying heed to Saudi Arabian deadly opposition to the deal he has further opened up the doors of extended US role in the region in foreseeable future.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, dubbed as Iranian nuclear deal, was arrived at after painstaking parleys and was signed in July 2015. Iran sat across the table with six-nation negotiating group and finally hammered out a mutually acceptable deal. The agreement was finalised after two years of intense talks and was agreed upon in Vienna. The agreement finally ended the 12 years deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme that became a bone of contention between Iran and the western powers.

The deal was based upon securing iron-clad guarantees to limit the Iranian programme to reassure the rest of the world that it would be unable to develop nuclear weapons and the quid pro quo was the lifting of sanctions imposed on it that had very severely bitten it. The agreement was a straightforward bargain that favoured all parties engaged in this activity.

Following the deal Iran unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges along with shipping out 98% of its enriched uranium. In addition it accordingly filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete. Tehran also assented to strict and comprehensive monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency that, in turn, verified 10 times since the agreement, as recently as February that Tehran has complied with its terms. The advantage Iran got out of the deal was that all nuclear-related sanctions were lifted in January 2016 enabling Iran to reconnect with global markets.

It was a cabal of P-5 countries (US, UK, France, China, Russia) that were accompanied by Germany that carried out negotiations with Iran under the direction of the UN. To make it a proper international agreement, the deal was enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution that incorporated it into international law. The 15 members of the council at the time unanimously endorsed the agreement.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, dubbed
as Iranian nuclear deal, was arrived at after
painstaking parleys and was signed in July 2015

The contours of US foreign policy radically changed when Trump rose to power. Right from the outset the fate of the deal became uncertain as he had promised in his election campaign that he will “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran”. Despite his categoric enunciation it was however hoped that he might instead adopt a more rigorous implementation of the agreement and tighten sanctions already in place. The logic of the argument was that a tightened implementation regime will spur Iran to violate its provisions or declare it redundant.

As the first salvo Trump showed tremendous reluctance in waiving a host of sanctions against Iran as mandated by US Congress after every 120 days and qualified his decision as “this is a last chance” and asked “European countries to join with the United States in fixing significant flaws in the deal”. The deadline set by Congress this time was scheduled to run out on 12 May but Trump walked away before the deadline approached.

The deal

Trump is convinced that the nuclear agreement is a bad deal that desperately falls short of addressing Iran’s regional indiscretions and its missile programme. Trump is encouraged by the hawks in his administration such as his secretary of state Mike Pompeo and John Bolton his national security adviser who believe that providing such accommodation to Iran will ultimately be harmful. They are also wary about growing Iranian influence amongst the Shiite segments of populations living in the trouble-spots in the Middle East.

Trump is viciously after dismantling legacy of Obama administration and Iran deal was a formidable achievement of the previous presidency. The most significant feature of the evolving scenario is that it is only America that has withdrawn from the agreement to the chagrin of rest of the P-5 countries that still wish to keep the deal intact. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson gave words to the feelings of his group when he visited America to convince Trump not to scuttle the deal: “of all the options we have for ensuring that Iran never gets a nuclear weapon, this pact offers the fewest disadvantages”.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, dubbed
as Iranian nuclear deal, was arrived at
after painstaking parleys and was signed in July 2015

The European countries are steadfast to keep the agreement as is evident from them ignoring the claims made by Israeli PM Netanyahu who produced a cache of documents to portray that Iran was cheating on the side. The European countries instead gave the counter-argument mentioning that such documents in fact increase the importance of the deal as any transgression is there to be monitored under its terms of agreement.

President Trump’s decision to end sanctions relief may have global ramifications as Iran’s weak economy may heighten tensions in the region that may cause a huge rift in it. As a matter of concern Iranian Rial had already lost approximately a third of its value in six months after it was pegged to US dollar. Iran has publicly committed to engage with the US and this action may weaken the position of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Dr. Tahseen Mahmood Aslam is an educationist with wide experience

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