Despite no approval from any of the other signatories of the Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (J.C.P.O.A.), President Trump on Tuesday announced the United States is leaving the agreement. Britain, Germany, and France made last ditch efforts to try and persuade Trump not to leave the deal, but to no avail. In his formal statement he said the agreement “is defective at its core.” He even claimed the deal—which was also signed by Britain, Germany, France, China, and Russia—was an “embarrassment.”
Trump’s address on the Iran deal expressed a number of falsehoods to make his case of why he was pulling out of the agreement. He stated, “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise [Iranian nuclear technology was only for peaceful purposes] was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents—long concealed by Iran—conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.” Israel’s presentation showed nothing new that was not already known before the nuclear agreement was made and that information was considered before the agreement was signed. Trump’s claim of new intelligence is false.
Also during his address, Trump tried to link Iran’s missile program and terrorist related activities as part of the original deal that was reached when the deal’s scope was solely on nuclear matters. “Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” Trump said, “but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.” Missiles and terrorism would require other, separate, negotiations and deals to resolve. Trump is falsely trying to lump all outstanding security issues into the agreement. He might as well be saying the deal also fails to address agricultural trade issues. The Obama administration never tried to sell the agreement as a missile agreement or curbing Iran’s terrorist related activities. And of course, the first part of his statement above that the deal has failed to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions is false. Iran has shown no signs that it is pursuing nuclear technology outside of the signed agreement.
In the end, Trump’s reasoning of why he is pulling out of the J.C.P.O.A. wreaks of political rationale rather than sober national security calculations. He is, after all, keeping a campaign promise by going back on the deal and ignoring the unanimous opinions of all those who have signed the agreement, including America’s closest allies.
What is Iran’s reaction? Iran said after Trump’s remarks that it remains committed to the deal and will work with the other signatories but will resume uranium enrichment if it does not continue to benefit from the deal. That last part will involve the threat of reapplying sanctions which President Trump promised to do in his address. It would mean any firm or financial institution doing business with Iran’s Central Bank, will be barred from the U.S. banking system. Since the other signers of the J.C.P.O.A. believe the deal is in fact working, this could cause a serious confrontation. Is Trump willing to sanction Britain, Germany, and France over Iran?