Donald Trump must not rip up deal with Tehran
The US president has another decision on the nuclear pact in four months; to do anything other than again waive sanctions will send the worst of messages
Nuclear agreements need certainty. Donald Trump has done the opposite with the landmark accord between Iran and the United Nations Security Council and Germany. His threats to wreck the deal by withdrawing the United States is risking greater instability in the Middle East. China and European nations are fortunately determined to ensure it remains intact, knowing what it means for multilateral talks and ending proliferation.
For a third time since he became president, Trump earlier this month waived the reimposition of sanctions lifted when the deal was signed in 2015. But he said this would be the last time and vowed to withdraw from what he called a “significantly flawed” pact unless it was revised.
Announcing new sanctions on 14 Iranian entities and individuals, he added: “No one should doubt my word.” Although the president does not always follow through with his threats, he has nonetheless caused a flurry of diplomatic activity.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi phoned his Iranian counterpart and urged calm, pledging to help ensure the deal is upheld by all parties. European negotiators have echoed his sentiments and will lobby Trump against withdrawing.
They have good reason; international inspectors have repeatedly confirmed Iran is complying with the agreement, which involves Tehran destroying or dismantling most of its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for the lifting of most economic and banking sanctions. Given the years of tough bargaining involved in the agreement and Tehran’s compliance, Iran understandably has refused to reopen talks.
Trump wants a new deal drawn up that makes some of the pact’s terms permanent, including Iran’s ballistic missile programme, its support of extremist groups in the Middle East, and human rights. Pragmatism by his predecessor, who focused only on the nuclear issue, sealed the accord.
Tying in matters that should be dealt with separately will bog down negotiations and destroy a rare success in the battle against nuclear proliferation. The American leader has another decision on the pact in four months; to do anything other than again waive sanctions will send the worst of messages.