President Donald Trump has withdrawn the U.S. from the Iran Nuclear Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)) and declares to renew sanctions on Iran. According to Al Jazeera, Trump labeled the agreement as “defective at its core” and that it would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. However, analysts say that the U.S.’ exit is likely to have the opposite effect – that the exit could instead aggravate conflict in the Middle East, destabilize Iran, and isolate the U.S. from its allies and the international community as a whole.
Following Trump’s decision, many world leaders immediately responded to the withdrawal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called the U.S.’ exit “unacceptable.” He further added that America has “officially undermined its commitment to an international treaty” and that Iran could resume uranium enrichment “without limit” in response to Trump’s decision. Germany, the United Kingdom, and France released a joint statement: “Together, we emphasize our continuing commitment to the JCPOA. This agreement remains important for our shared security.” According to Xinhua news agency, China agrees with Europe’s response as Gong Xiaosheng stated “having a deal is better than no deal. Dialogue is better than confrontation.” RIA news agency reported Russia’s concerns that Trump’s decision could jeopardize the U.S.’ talks with North Korea. Former U.S. President Barack Obama stated similar concerns on Facebook: “Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.” However, other world leaders have praised the U.S.’ withdrawal. Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Bahrain support Trump’s decision. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his support at a press conference: “The removal of sanctions under the deal has already produced disastrous results. The deal didn’t push war further away, it actually brought it closer.”
Despite some differing views, it is a concern to see the U.S. withdrawing from an international agreement that was achieving real results and principled diplomacy. One of Trump’s main concerns was that Iran was “a regime of great terror,” but the JCPOA was never intended to solve all problems with Iran. The U.S. and its allies are aware of Iran’s suspected support for terrorism, and its threats towards Israel and its neighbours. However, that is precisely why an agreement like this is so important. It is not an agreement built on trust, it is an agreement to confront Iran’s threatening behaviour, and it is working. As Iran has not violated its side of the deal, U.S. withdrawal will evidently make diplomatic relations with Iran more challenging and tougher to sustain, which U.S. allies will now have to undertake. Despite the U.S. being a super power, it still needs the support of its closet allies. It is a dangerous world and the U.S. needs to rely on strong and principled diplomacy to achieve security and peace.
The JCPOA was signed in Vienna in 2015 with six world powers – the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union. The agreement enforced Iran to scale back its uranium enrichment program and to not pursue nuclear weapons. In exchange for Iran’s compliance, international sanctions were lifted, allowing the state to sell its oil and gas worldwide. However, secondary U.S. sanctions remain. The United Nations strictly monitors Iran’s nuclear facilities and has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the agreement. Trump has long disagreed with the JCPOA and made it one of his campaign pledges to withdraw from the agreement that was signed by his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
Overall, the withdrawal has damaged the U.S. credibility, as the JCPOA is an international treaty endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution. It is hoped that peace and security can still be achieved by the remaining parties within the JCPOA, who will now have to face Iran’s disapproval and anger.