by Paul Gadalla
Rai Insights Contributor
Beirut: Donald Trump’s attempts to derail the Iran Nuclear Agreement is nothing short of a diplomatic blunder and could create an even more hostile Middle East.
Trump has called the deal: “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” and says the Iranian Revolutionary Guards support terrorism. He has made a number of laughable accusations against Iran such as that it supports Al Qaeda and the Taliban, both primarily Sunni organizations that despise Shiite Iran.
Trump has already gone ahead with attempts to tear up the so-called Obama doctrine. He has dramatically scaled back relations with Cuba, saying the deal with Cuba was greatly counter to the US’s favor. Trump has already pulled the US out of UNESCO due to its apparent “anti-Israeli” sentiments. Also under Trump’s tenor, America has joined Syria as one of the only two countries not to be part of the Paris Climate Agreement. He has also threatened to terminate out of NAFTA and tear up trade agreements with China.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement was nothing short of an international feat between the US, EU, and Iran in hopes to create international oversight over its controversial nuclear program. It put to rest fears of an Iranian nuclear warhead and unilateral American actions. Negotiations dragged on for months but ultimately the treaty, if it continues to stay on track, imposes 20 years of inspections on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Now conservatives, along with the Saudi and pro-Israeli lobby, are mounting pressure to derail or scrap the landmark agreement. This anti-Iran alliance has made claims that the treaty does not go far enough and does not impact its ballistic missile program or the funding of any of its proxy groups. By torpedoing the deal, they have US backing to continue their own Iranian containment policies. Saudi Arabia is already looking to build a coalition of nations to supposedly contain Iran.
So far Trump has stopped short of attempting to rip up the treaty but has publicly disavowed it. Now the American president is saying he will leave the deal altogether if the deal is not expanded to cover more of Iran’s activities. Trump aides, for now, have convinced him to stick with the treaty but he has now thrown the political ball in Congress’s court with the hopes of the reimposition of sanctions if Iran sends any aggressive signals. He also worryingly said, as quoted in the New York Times: “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies,” he said, “then the agreement will be terminated.” Congress will need 60 votes in the Senate to amend the treaty, something unlikely to happen as Republicans only have 52 seats.
Iran though has vehemently stated it will not tolerate any amendments to the treaty. And the true irony is that so far, according to international inspectors, Iran has been sticking to the agreement.
His termination of the Iran Nuclear Agreement though will not be an easy one. Unlike Obama’s agreements with Cuba, the Iran Nuclear Agreement was signed by a number of nations (France, China, Russia, the UK , Germany, and Iran to be exact). Although it is not completely foreseen what will happen if the US does not honor the treaty, it cannot unilaterally cancel it.
Sabotaging the treaty could have severe ramifications for international security and regional stability. It would take America down an isolationist path and undo years of negotiations attempting to bring Iran’s nuclear program under control. Without any such treaty, there is no international oversight of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, leading to the potential of an Iranian nuclear warhead—the one thing that Israel and the US fear. Also it would destroy any trust between Iran and the international world. Why should Iran go the diplomatic path, if a major power unilaterally decided to terminate an agreement? Iran has also been integral in the fight against ISIS in Iraq. By shunting Iran, they are excluding a major player in the Middle East and propping other aggressive actors in the region like Israel.
*Paul Gadalla is a New York native communication specialist and aspiring political analyst based in Beirut, Lebanon