Ted Galen Carpenter
Security, Middle East
Using North Korea’s behavior as an excuse to trash the nuclear agreement with Iran is at best a dangerously simplistic reaction.
It’s no secret that the Trump administration is busily building a case to have the United States repudiate the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran. Even when the president grudgingly conceded that Tehran was complying with the explicit terms of the accord, he groused that Iranian leaders were violating “the spirit” of the document. A cynic could easily have pointed out that a key reason why nations spell out the binding aspects of an agreement through written provisions—rather than relying on vague oral comments and handshakes—is that only the written clauses constitute true obligations. Disagreements about the “spirit” or intentions could be endless. The preponderance of evidence indicates that Iran has, in fact, abided by its legal obligations under the agreement.
Unfortunately, administration officials and a vocal flock of hawks in the United States seem determined to sabotage the accord. The latest salvo was the speech that U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered to the ultra-hawkish American Enterprise Institute on September 5. That address contained a multitude of distortions, all of which seemed designed to build a foundation for the administration to repudiate the agreement. Indeed, if Haley’s comments are taken seriously, a drive appears underway to go beyond that step and make the case for war against Iran.