President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iranian nuclear agreement, Tuesday, cracking open the lid to a potential nuclear Pandora’s box in the Middle East.
Trump terminated the agreement under which Iran vowed to dismantle much of its nuclear program in return for weaker economic sanctions after much debate with foreign powers who urged him not to back out.
Trump argues the current agreement, one of America’s “worst deals” in the history of deals, constrains Iran’s nuclear ambitions but fails to double down on their other criminal regional activities, effectively letting them off the hook. Though the agreement is imperfect at best, most of the international community involved have reached a consensus that remaining in the agreement would be the best course of action. Trump, however, prematurely ending his side of the bargain, shattered international unity, made Iran look like a reliable state (which is no small task), and left little room for renegotiation.
Iranian’s have been taught for a generation that America can’t be trusted, and Trump just proved them right.
What’s in the deal?
Officially known as the, “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the Iranian nuclear deal is an agreement, signed into law by six major world powers, limiting Iran’s nuclear capabilities in return for the abating of economic sanctions. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, witnessing the devastating effects of America’s crippling economic sanctions, agreed to take concrete steps to revive his country’s economy by agreeing to the demands of the Western World. The deal, which was reached in 2015 under Barack Obama’s presidency, ended 12 years of deadlock on how to deal with Iran’s deterrence.
Nevertheless an incredible feat, the deal is in need of alteration. Currently, the accord permits Iran to partake in nefarious acts that don’t include developing its nuclear weaponry. Rouhani has the power to sponsor terrorist groups (think: Hezbollah and Hamas), launch a series of missile tests, and contribute to horrific human rights violations presently occurring within and outside his country’s borders. Even more so, the implementation of what’s known as “sunset clauses” in the agreement ease the restrictions in place to limit Iran’s capabilities after a period of 15 years. Hypothetically, such clauses open the door to a (post-agreement) economically viable Iran continuing its nuclear development around the mid-2020s.
Despite both parties agreeing on the necessity to modify the agreement, Trump and the Iranian government differ on how to conduct future negotiations. While Rouhani pledges to only negotiate changes based on the current deal, Trump refuses to consider anything but starting anew.
What does this mean for the US?
On the international stage, America might lose its global dominance.
The immediate aftermath is unclear. With an Iran suspected to launch an attack on neighboring Israel, it’s difficult to read how the conflict will play as regional dynamics come into the fore. However, it’s important to note Iran is on the brink of war against Israel. Recent attacks on Iranian military bases by the Israelis, alongside the corrosion of the accord which previously limited Iran’s militaristic capabilities, creates the frightening potential for a broader, regional conflict. Both the Trump administration and the Iranian government will pursue a strategy of agitation in hopes of using brinkmanship to strike deals, but the fragility of this reality may just turn into a full-fledged war.