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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (informally known as the Iran Deal), is a currently active multilateral agreement between the P5 (US, UK, EU, China, Russia) + Germany, and Iran, ensuring the weakening of Iran’s nuclear capabilities in a bold attempt to minimize the potential nuclear threat of the Middle Eastern nation.
However, the recent election of President Donald Trump in the United States could significantly affect the direction of foreign affairs, especially in relation to Iran. He has made his intentions clear, by informing the American and International community of his desire to re-negotiate the terms of the deal. This would effective immediately release all sanctions currently imposed on Iran and as a result, they would be within their rights to develop nuclear weapons free from International prosecution. The exact opposite of what the deal intends to do.
Abolishing the deal would also rely on the United States to diplomatically convince the remaining stake-holders to renegotiate their respective terms with Iran. The deal does not just involve the United States and consequently, the Trump administration should not seek to provoke diplomatic tensions with other members of the P5, especially as the deal has been in effect for the majority of the current year. Making matters more complicated, Iran has strongly indicated that they will not renegotiate the terms of the deal should the US or any other nation state decide to opt out.
From the 26th of March to 2nd of April 2015, representatives of the participating nation states met to discuss the terms of the agreement in Lausanne, Switzerland. The hope was that Iran would cease to research and develop nuclear related projects in return for the lifting of economic sanctions on Iranian businesses and energy firms. These parameters were eventually set by the 2nd of April as the EU vowed to remove energy and banking sanctions whereas the United States promised to free domestic and foreign economic sanctions on businesses who cooperate with Iran. The releasing of such pressing sanctions represents a committed international effort to nullify Iran’s potential nuclear threat.
In response to the lenient economic measures imposed on Iran, Iran agreed to reduce their varying amounts of stockpiled enriched uranium by 98%, and any further uranium development activity was limited to using a single facility for the next 10 years. In addition, gas centrifuges were reduced by approximately 66%. All nuclear sanctions will continue to be closely monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency to effectively ensure Iran’s compliance to the agreement.
In October last year, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif was vocal in his support for the upkeep of the deal, affirming that “All sides remain strongly committed to ensuring that implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action can start as soon as possible”. Whilst Mr. Zarif and the current President of Iran have openly disagreed on the Iranian deal, it is assuring to hear these words from Mr. Zarif and to know that the deal was eventually signed by Iran, in January 2016. For President elect Trump to reverse the already established and implemented measures of the agreement would severely dent his and the United States’ foreign affairs credibility.
In January this year, President Obama stressed the importance of the Iran Deal, making particular mention of the previously disastrous relationship between the United States and Iran. At a speech in Washington, Obama stated that “for decades, our differences with Iran meant that we did not speak with each other”. The differences between the two nations have been largely economic and militarily related, in which the Iran Deal signifies a fresh start between the two countries, a fresh start that President elect Trump is looking to back-flip on. Fortunately, the deal is a result of strategic and measured diplomatic engagements between the two countries which has propelled the rekindling of their previously fractured relationship.
President Obama also alluded to “strong American diplomacy” which was paramount to the advancement of national and international security. For his government, recognizing the importance of protecting his own country, making the world a safer place was of the utmost priority. So whilst the agreements of the current deal do not satisfy Mr Trump, an attempted renegotiation would be damaging not only to the United States of America, but also the World. The effects of the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb in World War 2 still affects certain areas of Japan today due to its radioactive intensity, and by comparison, the threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb is evidently more nerving for the International community. Despite Trump’s ‘protectionist’ America view, he ought to see why the Iran Deal represents “a unique opportunity to solve important issues”.
An opponent of the deal, Republican Senator Bob Corker expressed his dissatisfaction with the economic repercussions of the multilateral agreement, claiming that “We (the United States) gave up all of our leverage…when we gave away the money that were stashed in various countries around the world and so now the leverage is with them”. Not to mention that the United States are currently paying back $1.7 billion dollars to Tehran, a refund for undelivered weapons to Iran. Moreover, Tehran has also received billions of dollars for exporting the large amounts of uranium. And finally, the lifting of economic sanctions on Iranian businesses, is all evidence for how Iran has prospered enormously from the deal. The biggest losers will be the United States, not Iran, should President elect Trump chose to do the unthinkable.