Donald Trump’s wrecking ball trick has been tried before. In fact it’s pretty much the only trick he has. But this time it’s different. Things like the Climate Change agreement are easy to re-visit. By the next administration folks can come back to it. The Iran Deal is different. He hasn’t managed to destroy it yet, but if he does, the damage he does to US-Iranian relations, and the reputation of the country will be permanent. The Opportunity of the JCPOA, the possibility of a broader peace between the US and Iran, has probably already been squandered. The chances of Iran becoming a North Korea style Nuclear hermit have also been increased.
This video focuses on the basics of why Trump’s actions are so insane. Later in the week we should get into the repercussions. But earlier today I saw the Iranian Foreign Minister making a very valid point that didn’t make it into either. If Trump succeeds in destroying this deal. Which he is likely to do from the US perspective anyway. How does any country ever trust the United States again?
Video Transcript after the jump…
Well it happened. As I warned was likely three months ago Trump has chosen not to certify Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The JCPOA is more informally known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. The deal isn’t dead yet. But Trump, in a very Trumpian move, has decided to boot the question to congress. The idea here is that they’ll somehow come up with a better deal. Trump maintains the threat to just kill US participation in the deal if he doesn’t like what they come up with. In his mind he can just blame congress if this happens.
This is nuts on a number of levels. First off, Congress can’t unilaterally improve the Iran deal. The deal was agreed upon by a range of international actors, including the US, Iran, Russia, China, France, Germany, the UK, and the European Union. This wasn’t just fig leaf multilateralism. The Sanctions that brought Iran to the table need all of those powers to work. The US is almost free of Middle East petroleum now, we get what we need from Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Even Saudi Arabia isn’t all that important to our petroleum mix anymore. Whether or not we buy Iranian oil isn’t important. It’s the Chinese, Indian and European buyers that matter for Sanctions against Iran.
So the US Congress Doesn’t have the power to “improve the deal”. We need our allies to get on board for any renegotiation. And it’s pretty clear that that’s not going to happen. Here is the European Union’s reply to Trump’s speech.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action… The JCPOA. It is not a a bi-lateral agreement. It does not belong to any single country, and it is not up to any single country to terminate it. It is a multi-lateral agreement which was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council resolution 2231. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the IEA, as verified eight times that Iran is implementing all its nuclear related commitments, following a comprehensive and strict monitoring system.
There have been no violations of any of the commitments included in the agreement. The United States Domestic Process. And I underline domestic, following today’s announcement of President Trump is now in the hands of the United States Congress. The JCPOA is not a domestic issue but a UN security council resolution. The international community and the European Union with it, has clearly indicated that the deal is and will continue to be in place.
It’s not just the EU and every other party to the deal that thinks Iran is in compliance. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis thinks they are complying. So does Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. So does Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford. Everybody except for Donald Trump and the usual Neocon suspects thinks that Iran is complying.
We’re the bad guys here. That’s nothing new. But what is new is that everybody now knows we’re the bad guys here. This is dangerous and it was a really, really dumb thing for Trump to do.
It’s very hard to predict what happens now. Congress is very likely to fail to come up with a better solution. And even if they do come up with a solution that satisfies Washington, DC’s bipartisan clutch of Iran haters, the international community is likely to ignore any sanctions we propose. It’s possible Congress won’t come up with anything and that Trump will then get distracted by something else that’s shiny, and won’t do anything. That’s what we all have to hope for. So the best case scenario is that US leadership on this issue completely disappears. The worst case scenario is one in which the US tries to unilaterally force the world into Iran sanctions that the world does not want. Successful or not, This would create a world-wide coalition of people that are sick of US leadership, and might start seriously thinking about how to end it. More on that next time.
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