Trump didn’t know anything about the nuclear deal
On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, President Trump officially announced his intentions to pull the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran, better known as the Iran nuclear deal. Less than a day later, on May 9, over 1,400 scholars gave their professional opinion on the decision: it was wrong.
In a poll conducted by the Teaching, Research, and International Policy center, 94 percent of U.S. foreign policy scholars who study international politics for a living, agreed that Trump should not have pulled the U.S. from the nuclear deal, given all the positive change that it has brought.
The deal was very comprehensive in terms of its various components, but can be summarized as follows. In exchange for relieving sanctions on nuclear power and unfreezing $100 billion in Iranian assets in overseas banks, Iran would: export 98 percent of its enriched uranium; remove 20,000 of its centrifuges (roughly 2/3’s of Iran’s equipment used to enrich uranium), and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unrestricted access to its nuclear facilities. Not only was this estimated to have rolled back the Iranian nuclear program by 15 years, but it also had international support from the European Union and China among other states.
In January, Trump appeared to indicate that he would keep the plan of action in place by extending sanctions relief. Many things have happened in the months since then, most notably Trump’s appointment of reputed chickenhawk warmonger John Bolton as his National Security Advisor. Bolton had previously called the nuclear deal President Obama’s “greatest display of appeasement” in April 2015, and still holds that same sentiment to this day.
Bolton may not have been the only figure influencing Trump, as other hard liner cabinet officials like Mike Pompeo , who suggested to Congress that the deal could be fixed (but also grudgingly admitted that the CIA had found no evidence Iran was not in compliance) have also expressed concerns about it. Readers must also consider the fact that Trump may be doing this to distract from the domestic scandals he faces regarding Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels, and the Special Counsel probe. All of which are matters which have an actual chance of getting him impeached, assuming the Democratic Party wins back Congress in the 2018 midterms.
The JCPOA was not only a signature achievement of the Obama Administration, but also a major move towards global stability. At a time when tensions were very high, President Obama managed to secure a pathway towards peace. Trump has stepped all over that, and unless the Republican Party plans to diverge from him, they will be forever complicit in this act of incompetence and idiocy.
The silver lining to this dark cloud is that Iran plans to negotiate with the other countries involved in the creation of the nuclear deal to stay in the JCPOA. Which means that while Trump may have tarnished America’s reputation for keeping our word as a nation, at least some western democracies still have theirs intact. Which is perhaps the saving grace preventing a potential nuclear conflict.