- Even experts who were sceptical and highly critical of the Iran nuclear deal aren’t sure if President Donald Trump made the correct decision in withdrawing from it.
- Ernest J. Moniz, a nuclear physicist, former secretary of energy and one of the chief architects of the Iran deal, on Tuesday described Trump’s move to withdraw from the pact as a “major strategic mistake.”
- After Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, the reaction from US allies was swift and negative.
President Donald Trump’s Tuesday announcement that the US is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal generated swift criticism from much of the foreign policy community, even among experts who were sceptical and highly critical of the landmark pact.
The Iran nuclear deal, which was negotiated by the Obama administration, aimed to restrict Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions.
Trump has continuously maintained it was a “terrible” deal and promised to dismantle it during his presidential campaign. On Tuesday, he delivered on that promise – and reactions were mixed.
‘I certainly understand President Trump’s motivation but it’s a big risk’
Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive officer of the non-partisan think tank Foundation for Defence of Democracies, expressed some concerns about Trump’s unilateral approach to this issue during a call with media on Tuesday afternoon.
Dubowitz suggested Trump should have instead negotiated a new agreement with America’s E3 allies (France, the UK and Germany) before making the decision to fully pull away from the pact.
“My reaction [to Trump’s decision is] … I would have preferred to see a US-E3 agreement first,” Dubowitz said, adding this would have put the US in a “stronger diplomatic decision.”
Dubowitz has frequently made his issues with the Iran deal quite clear, describing himself as someone who wanted to “fix not nix” the deal.
During a podcast interview in March, Dubowitz said the notion the Iran deal “cut off all pathways to nuclear weapons” was “just nonsense.”
“If you read the agreement, it doesn’t cut off all pathways, because all the restrictions go away over time, and those pathways actually are paved to an Iranian nuclear weapon,” Dubowitz said, highlighting how flawed he felt the deal was.
David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security who was also on Tuesday’s call with journalists, expressed similar sentiments to Dubowitz.
“I certainly understand President Trump’s motivation but it’s a big risk and he’s now in a sense promised a process to not only renegotiate the Iran deal but extend it into other areas. … The path in front of him is quite large,” Albright said.
Like Dubowitz, Albright felt the Iran deal didn’t sufficiently block the Iranian regime from a pathway to nuclear weapons.
In an op-ed for The Washington Post from January, Albright wrote, “The Iran deal suffers from inadequate verification and, most problematically, ‘sunset’ clauses that allow Tehran to start rebuilding its nuclear-weapons capability.”
Albright warned that if “left unchecked,” Iran would be closer to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb “than it was before the agreement” was finalised by the Obama administration in 2015.
Indeed, despite the fact both Dubowitz and Albright opposed many fundamental aspects of the Iran deal as it was negotiated by the Obama administration, they still aren’t sure Trump’s approach is the best way forward.
‘Remaining in the agreement was very clearly in the US national interest’
Meanwhile, other foreign policy experts who are more supportive of the deal feel Trump has made a dire mistake.
Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies office in Washington, described Trump’s decision as a potentially “calamitous” move that could “unleash the pent-up potential for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”
“Trump’s rejection of the diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis undermines multilateral diplomacy and the very underpinnings of the nuclear order,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement provided to Business Insider. “It gives a new writ to nuclear lawlessness, since Iran’s having abided by the agreed rules will be proven to have been in vain.”
Ernest J. Moniz, a nuclear physicist, former secretary of energy and one of the chief architects of the Iran deal, on Tuesday described Trump’s move to withdraw from the pact as a “major strategic mistake” that damages America’s ability to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and severely weakens the US government’s position with its allies.
“Remaining in the agreement was very clearly in the US national interest. It’s hard to predict what will unfold from here, but the President has driven a deep wedge between the United States and our allies in Europe,” Moniz said in a statement.
After Trump’s announcement on Tuesday, the reaction from US allies was swift and negative, reinforcing the concerns of both sceptics and supporters of the Iran deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement that said Trump’s decision filled them with “regret and concern.” All three leaders maintained their “commitment” to the historic pact.
Despite the controversial nature of the Iran deal and the criticism against it among some members of the foreign policy community, there’s no credible evidence the Iranian government was violating the terms of the pact.
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