Martin Malin, Amit Grober
Security, Middle East
The next round of interactions over Tehran’s nuclear program won’t yield a better deal for Washington.
On Tuesday, at his speech to the UN general assembly, President Trump again implied bluntly that he would not stick to the nuclear deal between Iran and the world’s major powers, calling it “an embarrassment.”
The Trump administration has been long signaling its intentions regarding the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In July, President Trump reportedly asked his staff to find a way to get the United States out of the JCPOA. In September, U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley, made the case for withdrawing from the nuclear agreement, claiming that Iran was in violation of the accord. Just this week, in an attempt to point the finger at the International Atomic Energy Agency, Trump said that the United States “will not accept a weakly enforced” deal.
As tensions grow between Iran and the United States, the administration faces a major deadline in mid-October to recertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. If it does not, Congress will have sixty days to reapply the sanctions that were lifted under the agreement. Although Iran has vowed not to be the first to break the accord, Tehran accused the United States earlier this year of breaching the agreement after Congress imposed new sanctions following a recent Iranian missile test.
The mutual antagonism, only two years into the decade-and-a-half-long agreement, is highly unstable. Already facing an acute crisis with North Korea, the Trump administration appears ready to open a second nuclear front, this time with Iran. Critics of the JCPOA suggest stronger constraints on Iran’s regional activities and missile development could be imposed after the deal collapses. But what would happen to Iran’s nuclear program in this scenario?