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Another irritant

Oct 15,2017 - Last updated at Oct 15,2017

US President Donald Trump made good on yet one other of his campaign promises — to work to unravel the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran — by refusing to “certify” that Tehran is complying with the terms of the agreement.

He did not go as far as to withdraw his country from the accord that it and five other Western countries signed — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — leaving it to the US Congress to decide, within 60 days, whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, lifted after the agreement was signed.

The certification process is a periodic exercise for the US president. Trump reluctantly endorsed the agreement twice since he took office, in January, but has been critical of it all along — as he is of every other endeavour taken during the administration of his predecessor, Barack Obama — insisting that it is “the worst deal ever” and warning that he might ultimately terminate it.

To justify his last decision, Trump accused Iran of not “living up to the spirit” of the agreement and of destabilising actions in Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

While Iran’s hegemonic interventions in the regional countries’ affairs cannot be defended, its compliance with the nuclear deal terms cannot be attacked.

International inspectors assert that Iran is in compliance with the accord and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano reiterated that Iran was under the world’s “most robust nuclear verification regime” and that “the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] are being implemented”.

Trump sure cannot know better, but bent on erasing every achievement of his predecessor, he already withdrew the US from the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, and renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

On Iran, Trump is very close to the Israeli thinking. He was actually praised for his latest move by Israel which never accepted the deal, contending that it may only delay Iran’s nuclear programme but not end it altogether.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, with whom Trump had locked horns over North Korea, repeatedly testified that Iran complies technically with the deal; US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said that Iran is not in material breach of the accord. Yet, Trump seems determined to scupper the agreement even though saner heads doubt it is the right course of action.

US Democratic Senator Ben Cardin said: “At a moment when the United States and its allies face a nuclear crisis with North Korea, the president has manufactured a new crisis that will isolate us from our allies and partners.” 

Trump might carry out his threat regarding Iran’s nuclear programme. If he does and the deal is unravelled, there is no telling what Iran decides to do.


What we know is that the region does not need another crisis, and definitely not another nuclear power in its midst.

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