Nations must stand by deal with Tehran

By imposing sanctions on Iran after leaving the nuclear accord, Donald Trump is creating more instability and remaining signatories should honour the pact

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 August, 2018, 10:12pm

American sanctions against Iran did not work in the past and there is no reason they should this time. US President Donald Trump is making good with a promise to reimpose economic penalties after pulling his country from the nuclear deal in May, and he aims to force a renegotiation. But just as trade wars and withdrawal from the Paris climate change pact by the US are counterproductive, punishing Tehran for faithfully complying with a UN Security Council-authorised accord makes no sense. For China, its European partners and Iranian leaders, scrapping what took so long to negotiate and allowing Trump to get his way only erodes a time-tested system that has served the world well.

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani called the measures “psychological warfare” and rejected attempts by the US to reopen negotiations on the nuclear deal. China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia have understandably decided to ignore Trump’s actions. The EU has vowed to protect companies doing “legitimate business” with Iran, despite threats of punishment by Washington. As long as Tehran complies with the accord by limiting its nuclear activities and allowing UN inspections of facilities, signatories should do their best to thwart the sanctions.

Trump’s tough, unilateral Iran sanctions spook Europeans

Trump has long criticised the agreement, signed in 2015 by his predecessor, Barack Obama, labelling it “disastrous” and “the worst deal I’ve ever seen”. But it has so far succeeded in its goal of curbing Iran’s development of atomic weapons, as proved by repeated verification. The Trump administration wants it to go further, taking in discussion of Iranian extremists, involvement in the civil war in Syria and to end its missile and nuclear programmes. Sanctions aim to force negotiations by crippling the economy and increasing protests, perhaps even leading to the overthrow of the Islamic leadership.

Such interference has to be prevented. The deal is working effectively and over time, as confidence and trust are built on, may be expanded to other areas. Trump’s actions are only furthering instability in the Middle East. Working with China and others and honouring agreements is the most sensible strategy.