James Jay Carafano
An impoverished, isolated and rejected nation.
The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was intended to forestall the Iranian regime’s development of nuclear weapons. Last October, President Trump decertified the deal, citing Iran’s failure give international inspectors unfettered access to its nuclear and military facilities, its continued effort to acquired banned nuclear and missile technology, and other breaches of the agreement.
But Trump’s decision to decertify Iran’s compliance with the deal did not end U.S. participation in the framework. In the coming months, he will have to decide whether to continue American support of the deal or to withdraw from the framework altogether.
The better bet right now might to be stay within the JCPOA. But if the president decides to walk away, he shouldn’t be faulted. The important thing is that—stay or go—this administration is focused on the right policy: diminishing Tehran’s destabilizing influence in the region and leading the struggle against further proliferation by dangerous regimes.
Back to the Future
Those of us who criticized the deal had two fundamental concerns from the start. First, we did not believe it provided adequate guarantees that Iran would not become a breakout nuclear state anyway. Second, we doubted the Obama administration’s assertion that, through its participation in JCPOA, Iran would normalize and become a more responsible state.
The first objection remains unchanged. In particular, Iran’s ballistic-missile program continues to be a dangerous problem. What is the purpose of building a robust, long-range ballistic missile force other than to retain the option of one day arming them with nuclear weapons? Further, there are constant claims of Iranian cheating—buttressing the initial doubts that the agreement’s safeguards against cheating are inadequate.
Iran’s actions since signing the agreement have fully validated the correctness of the second objection. Tehran did not get better. The regime used the cash bonanza it received from the deal to enrich its corrupt elite, tighten its grip over the Iranian people, and conduct an aggressive, deadly and destabilizing foreign policy in the region.