Trump’s threat to the nuclear deal
Pantelis Ikonomou, former IAEA nuclear inspector, offers this reflection on President Trump’s continuing threat to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal:
Last Friday, the US president said he is extending the sanctions waver for Iran one last time, for another 120 days, so Europe and the US can fix the nuclear deal’s “terrible flaws”.
Should we be relieved? Rather disappointed for the continuation of an ambiguous policy with unclear scope and dangerous consequences.
What are the “terrible flaws” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA)?
Crown points of concern for the US president are the nuclear agreement’s “sunset clauses” and “suspicious sites” in Iran, which are not monitored.
How can these be fixed in the upcoming 120 days?
The agreement’s deadlines regarding specified actions and defined sanctions have been thoroughly discussed and agreed upon by all signatories, including the United States.
As for “suspicious sites”, the IAEA has the agreed right and obligation to request access to any site it might consider necessary under the scope of the agreement. Such a request would be based on an IAEA assessment of credible open-source or other information provided by an IAEA member state, including the US.
Antilogos to Trump’s stance:
The IAEA conﬁrmed in a succession of reports that Iran is fully complying with the commitments made under the JCPOA, the world’s “most robust nuclear verification regime”.
The European High Representative Federica Mogherini, one day before Trump’s decision Friday, following a meeting in Brussels with the Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, the UK and Iran, stated that “the continued successful implementation of JCPOA ensures that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful.” Europe considers that the agreement “is crucial for its security (and)…is determined to preserve it.”
Neither Russia nor China are backing president Trump’s stance on the Iran agreement. To the contrary, they both defend JCPOA, which they have both shaped and signed. It is in fact a multilateral agreement endorsed by the UN Security Council.
Trump’s position on the deal keeps Iran in closer ties to Russia, its foremost geopolitical ally; it could also push Tehran closer to Beijing.
Moreover, hardliners in Iran might assume full control of power in Tehran, triggering this time a non-safeguarded nuclear program, thus “pushing” other candidates in the region to follow Iran’s nuclear breakout.
At a time of acute nuclear threat, in particular the open-ended North Korean crisis, jeopardizing the integrity of the non-proliferation architecture, along with breaking solid bridges with historical friends and steadfast allies, could create a paramount threat to global security.
Former IAEA nuclear inspector