President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to pull out of a deal freezing and reversing Iran’s nuclear program if Congress and US allies do not agree to strengthen it, as he unveiled a tough and comprehensive new policy toward the Islamic Republic.
“As I have said many times, the Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Mr. Trump said in a major speech at the White House.
If such happens, it’ll be the latest sting in the already edgy flick between Washington and Teheran. Last September, Mr. Trump called the deal an “embarrassment” for his country, in what was his first speech at the United Nations’ General Assembly.
But let us emphasize that this doesn’t mean that a divorce is sealed after the announcement. Actually, what the man in the White House will do is simply to put responsibilities on Congress, which will have 60 days to assess and decide. Congressmen will need to evaluate if it reinstates the same sanctions imposed on Iran prior to the agreement (in 2015). If such an option is taken, then the US are definitely out of the arrangement settled with other world powers as Russia, China, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) October 14, 2017
Therefore, Mr. Trump’s speech will be nothing more than another mise-en-scène to entertain part of his base. What the New York billionaire wants is to look as if he’s ripping the agreement apart, when he’s actually shifting pressure.
But this dramatic move shows us that the US President is lying. Why? Simply put, if Mr. Trump really wanted to take his country out of the deal, without Congress in the loop, then he’d already done it.
According to a Vox report, every 120 days, the Administration must issue a waiver blocking the reinstatement of old sanctions on Iran. So, all Mr. Trump had to do was abstain from issuing the waiver. He did not.
The President chose another path instead. Last Thursday, in a meeting with military officials at the White House, the erratic Republican said: “The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos in the Middle East (…). That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions. They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”
This last sentence is important because it’s false. The US is alone making this accusation since other powers have reinstated their support for the deal, as well as the United Nations’ body responsible for monitoring Teheran’s actions.
The Trump Administration essentially believes that the Iranians have abusively expanded their influence in the region. And this is true, especially if one considers the way they intervened in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon or Iraq. The 2015 deal isn’t perfect but it’s an essential mechanism to ensure that Iran doesn’t start developing nuclear weapons. Tearing it up would destroy a useful resource in the Middle East, particularly between two nations that have constantly clashed in recent history. Besides other nations’ willingness in keeping it, there is also a geopolitical potential at stake.
The agreement is really of “national interest” for the US. A nuclear Iran would simply be a threat to American security.