Global security relies on United States involvement
In mid-October, President Trump announced that he will not recertify the Iran nuclear deal, following through on his campaign promise to end one of the Obama Administration’s signature achievements. The deal is a big step towards stability in the Middle East and ending it would question the United States’ role as a leader in the denuclearization of the world.
In a scathing speech at the White House, the president used Iran’s history as an untrustworthy adversary of the United States to justify his action, but there is really no good reason to leave the agreement and his move shows a misunderstanding of what it takes to negotiate an international agreement of this size.
The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is multinational agreement to lift sanctions on Iran if it agreed to drastically reduce its nuclear program. After years of negotiation, the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany resumed trade with Iran in 2016 after the country sent 98 percent of its Uranium supply to Russia and began shutting down its nuclear testing sites.
As part of the agreement, Iran must agree to thorough inspections of its nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.S. President must certify every 90 days that Iran is keeping with its side of the deal. Since becoming president, Trump has twice recertified the deal, but on Oct. 13 said that Iran has “violated the spirit of the deal” and will no longer support it.
Now the deal is in the hands of Congress, who has 60 days to decide if the U.S. should reimpose sanctions on Iran or back out of the deal completely. It could also decide to ignore the president and do nothing, leaving the deal as it is.
While it is unlikely that Congress will agree to impose more sanctions- to do so would require 60 votes, and these days legislators can hardly agree on anything- the mere suggestion that the U.S. will not maintain its side of the deal could have serious implications across the globe.
The Iran deal is the first time that the United States has had a clear and accurate understanding of Iran’s nuclear program; at the time the deal was negotiated, Iran was within weeks of obtaining enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon. Now, according to the IAEA, it would take years for Iran to make a nuclear weapon and the country is complying with the terms of the agreement by shutting down its testing facilities.
The Iran nuclear deal is widely supported around the world. Since Trump announced his decision not to recertify it, leaders from Britain, France, Germany and Russia announced their continued commitment to the agreement and urged the United States to remain in the deal.
Many fear that if Iran sees the U.S. as not holding up its end, it will resume work on nuclear weapons and the situation will escalate unnecessarily.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran will not be the first to violate the terms of the deal, but he will not let the United States back out of the deal without a proper response. The Iranian foreign minister who negotiated the deal said that no additional concessions will be given to the United States.
What President Trump fails to see is that Iran wants the deal to work too. The country endured decades of sanctions from around the world and sacrificed its nuclear program to end its forced economic isolation.
Since sanctions were lifted on Jan 15, 2016, Iranian oil exports have returned to pre-sanction levels and the country has made huge deals with international companies that before would’ve been impossible.
Virtually everyone involved in this deal is aware and supportive of its ability to stabilize the Middle East and reduce the threat of nuclear conflict; but to think that unanimous global accord would be enough to convince the president to abandon a nationalistic campaign promise would be an underestimation of the stubborn arrogance of Donald J. Trump.
The president thinks that he can stomp into the UN General Assembly, call the Iran deal unfair and rewrite the deal on his terms, but the reality is that the Iran nuclear deal is already as good as it gets. Iran and all the other countries involved in the deal will not agree to renegotiate simply because the United States’ foreign policy has changed.
There is no logical reason for the United States to back out of the deal. Trump claims that Iran’s past justifies exiting the agreement, and while it is true that Iran’s relationship with the U.S. has rarely been friendly, the deal allows the U.S. to watch Iran more closely.
By refusing to certify the Iran deal, Trump is ignoring the advice of other world leaders, the IAEA and even his own advisers only to continue his agenda of erasing his predecessor’s legacy. It is easy for Trump and his Fox News echo chamber to vilify the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially when the deal is so associated with Barack Hussein Obama.
Trump wants to prove his experience as a businessman will allow him to strike a better deal than career politicians, but his actions show him to be a worse negotiator than he is a diplomat. Backing out of the Iran deal will limit his ability to negotiate with North Korea at a time when tensions with that regime are already high.
Leaving the Iran nuclear deal will do nothing to prevent the threat of nuclear weapons and detracts from the seriousness of their use.
The president’s decision last week only shows that the most dangerous world leader with nuclear capabilities is not the head of Russia, North Korea or Iran, but the United States of America.
Peter is a junior majoring in journalism and English. What do you think about the U.S.’s new foreign policy? How can we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? Please direct any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter