Issue Presented: The desired U.S. policy outcome with respect to Iran involves a stable country that (1) is an active participant in the world economy, including providing a stable source of oil production and supply; (2) does not threaten is neighbors, including Israel, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, either through its own actions, or the actions of affiliated non-state actors (like Hezbollah); and (3) does not possess a nuclear weapon. The nuclear deal negotiated with Iran in 2015 was only intended to address one of those goals – ensuring that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons technology.
In May 2018, President Trump, who had called the deal historically bad on the campaign trail, announced that the United States was withdrawing from the conflict, despite pressure from European allies, as well as the Russian and Chinese governments to remain in the deal. President Trump stated,
The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable.
If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.
Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities. Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.
Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism….
After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Former President Barack Obama, in a rare statement on the policies of the Trump Administration, refuted President Trump’s claims:
There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.
The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. 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.
That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.
Do you agree with President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the JCPOA? If so, how do you convince other allies to renegotiate the deal, particularly recalcitrant parties like China and Russia? If you disagree with President Trump’s decision, how would you propose that the United States seek to confront aggressive Iranian behavior in places like Yemen and Syria?
In addressing this question, I expect you to engage in the policy analysis that we have been doing throughout the course. Reference the authors in your textbooks and supplemental readings where appropriate, and state your own position. You posting should be no less than 200 words.
Lecture Book, Chapter 6.
Hill, Chapter 3.2, pp. 125-138.
Annual Editions, pp 248-251.