Middle East

Danger in the United States pulling out from Iran deal

US President Donald Trump has described the non-proliferation agreement with Iran “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. But if he decides to withdraw from the deal, he could well create another potential nuclear crisis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 12:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 12:33am

The world faces one potential nuclear crisis with North Korea; it does not want another. Yet President Donald Trump could well create that if he decides the US should revisit the non-proliferation agreement with Iran. He has to make a ruling by the middle of next month and has indicated he has already made up his mind, but declined to let it be known until then. A dangerous situation will be created if he decides to withdraw from the deal.

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Trump told the UN General Assembly the pact was “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. Signed in 2015 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, the deal involved the ending of tough economic sanctions in return for international monitoring of Tehran’s nuclear programme to prevent weapons development. Only the American leader has expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement; other governments believe Iran is complying and have said it is working well. The president has to decide by October 15 whether he agrees and if he says otherwise, lawmakers have 60 days to rule on reimposing sanctions.

Relations between Iran and the US have chilled since Trump took office. Senior officials believe Iran is one of the biggest threats to the US and its allies in the Middle East. They argue the nuclear deal was meant to help contribute to regional and international peace and security, yet the Iranian involvement in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen and its missile and cyberspace programmes mean that the expectations for the pact are not being met. Trump is also driven by a desire to erase the legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who brokered the deal.

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Iran’s president, Hassan Rowhani, has said that his country would respond “decisively and resolutely” should the US renege on the agreement. To pull out of it simply because the terms are not liked by the Trump administration would be damaging to the deal and cast doubt on other accords the US has signed or intends to negotiate. That, in turn, would send the worst possible message about weapons proliferation to opponents of the US.