Three months ago, on the two-year anniversary of the Iran Nuclear Deal, President Trump reluctantly certified that Iran is complying with the international nuclear agreement that prevents Iran from attaining an atomic weapon. But not anymore.
Trump told the world last Friday that Iran is not in compliance with the Deal, even though they are, and that the Deal needs to be renegotiated, even though our allies, and even our enemies, do not agree.
Many of us were surprised that we got so much out of the Deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It really stopped Iran’s weapons program cold and will keep it that way for the foreseeable future. As long as we don’t scuttle it.
The Deal has to be recertified by the United States President every 90 days by declaring that Iran is in compliance. Trump has been annoyed at having to do this. By not certifying, we will begin to stop the intense scrutiny of Iran that is so important to preventing them from acquiring a nuclear weapon. We won’t know if and when they stop complying because we will have removed ourselves from the process.
Iran is actually meeting the terms of the nuclear deal hammered out in Switzerland two years ago by the United States-led P5+1 Group (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, United States, plus Germany). According to the United Nations’ nuclear watch dog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran shipped nearly its entire fissionable stockpile to Russia last year, over 12 tons of enriched uranium that could have been used to make uranium atomic bombs. Iran then mothballed thousands of centrifuges necessary to enrich uranium for this type of atomic weapon.
Iran also removed the core of its heavy water reactor at Arak, and filled it with concrete. That reactor could have produced plutonium for the other type of atomic bomb, one that is more easily mounted on missiles, like the ones North Korea has. And Iran has allowed facility inspections like no other nuclear country has ever done. This was a really sweet deal.
It’s not that the Deal is perfect, just good. Iran will most likely still try to cheat on some things, and that is why the inspections are so key. That’s why the Deal is so key. Without it, we’re back to square one.
Trump’s action comes at a time when two-thirds of Americans feel that President Trump will get us into another major war, and half of Americans think he will use nukes when he gets the chance. Neither of these is good for America.
Worse yet, Trump’s action plays into the hands of Iran’s hardliners, who have been telling the world, and their own people, that the United States cannot be trusted. The decision not to recertify gives these hardliners more power in Iran, especially over moderate President Rouhani. The possibility of moving Iran away from its entrenched theocracy rests with moderates like Rouhani. And the moderates have staked their survival on the success of this nuclear deal.
Iran’s hardliners want to get their nuclear program back on track and destabilize the region even more. ‘It could very well mean war between the U.S. and Iran, or Israel and Iran or some combination of the two,’ said Wayne White, former senior State Department intelligence official for the Near East and South Asia in the Bush Administration.
Not re-certifying the Deal does not withdraw the United States from the Deal but punts the issue over to Congress, which has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran. Continue reading.