Trump can preserve nuclear deal and address Iran policy
Ayear after its activation, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has achieved its chief purpose: slowing Iran’s nuclear advances and insuring through tight verification that the country cannot amass sufficient material to make a single nuclear weapon.
The administration of Donald J. Trump, due to take office four days after the comprehensive plan’s first anniversary, would be wise to continue implementing the agreement while it reviews overall U.S. policy toward Iran. Indeed as CIA director John Brennan told the BBC recently, scrapping the deal would be the “height of folly.”
Thanks to the plan of action, whose chief Iranian negotiator was Foreign Minister and University
Ryan Crocker and Barbara Slavin will be in Denver on Wednesday for a conversation with Ambassador Chris Hill about Middle East policy in the new administration. The WorldDenver event is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence St. of Denver Ph.D. Javad Zarif, for the past year and the ensuing 14, Iran cannot: legally possess more than 300 kilograms of lowenriched uranium, enrich uranium to a dangerous grade, or produce bomb fuel in an underground bunker. Iran is also barred from making mass quantities of plutonium and from constructing a facility to reprocess plutonium. Indeed, assuming Iran continues to implement the accord, its nuclear program will be, in the words of Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione, “shrinkwrapped” for more than a decade.
This major non-proliferation achievement allows the U.S. and its allies to focus on other areas of concern with Iran.
Contrary to the hopes of some of its supporters, the nuclear accord has so far not produced dramatic improvement in U.S.-Iran bilateral ties or in Iran’s relations with its Arab neighbors. Iran has continued to jail IranianAmericans and other dual nationals on bogus charges, to test ballistic missiles and to intervene in regional conflicts.
Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, she would likely have taken a harder line regarding these other Iranian policies; it is not yet clear whether Trump will do the same. He should take note, however, that many of Iran’s regional adversaries — including Saudi Arabia and Israel — are now urging him not to scrap the plan of action.
Misguided and poorly executed U.S. policies, such as the invasion of Iraq under the George W. Bush administration and the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. combat troops under Obama, gave Tehran the opportunity to fill the power vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Obama’s reluctance to robustly support the Syrian opposition before Iran and Russia intervened heavily on the side of Bashar al-Assad makes it harder to achieve a durable cease-fire and political settlement in Syria.
Given Iran’s entrenched role in both Syria and in Iraq, it is unrealistic to exclude Iran from deliberations about those countries’ political futures.
U.S. European allies, in particular, have made it clear that they will not walk away from the nuclear agreement, barring a major Iranian violation, and that they will not re-impose economic sanctions on Iran just because Washington decides to do so. Abrogating the agreement would cause an early and unnecessary crisis in transatlantic relations and likely benefit Russia, China and the most anti-American elements in the Iranian system.
As a dealmaker, President-elect Trump understands that it is not advisable to rip up a contract that is continuing to deliver benefits. He will face many difficult decisions upon taking office but thanks to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, there will be no early nuclear crisis with Iran.