December 2, The Iran Project – It seems that many in the US truly believe that pulling out of the agreement is unwise. In an rare public warning, CIA Director John Brennan warned Donald Trump that scrapping the nuclear deal with Iran would be “the height of folly” and “disastrous.”
In a TV interview with the BBC that aired on November 30, the outgoing US spy chief said that, “First of all for one administration to tear up an agreement that a previous administration made would be unprecedented.”
“I think it would be the height of folly if the next administration were to tear up that agreement,” he added.
US President-elect Donald Trump, who defeated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the November 8 election, has repeatedly threatened to scrap the landmark deal that the Obama administration and its allies struck with Iran last year that called for lifting punishing Western economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.
In a speech to the pro-Israeli lobby group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) in March, then-candidate Trump declared that his “number-one priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”
Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany), reached the comprehensive nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in July 2015 and implemented it in January 2016.
Despite Trump’s tough rhetoric on the campaign trail, there has been no real indication since the election that the incoming Republican president would follow through with the threat to undermine the accord.
Walid Phares, one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisers said earlier this month that the president-elect would likely take the agreement but try to demand changes to the bargain.
Besides, Washington Post in the editorial published on its website on November 29 stated that Trump shouldn’t rip up the Iran deal.
The American paper wrote it will open a rift between the United States and the other parties to the deal. Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia will not reinstate sanctions on Iran unless it is shown to have violated the accord. So far, despite some minor transgressions, it has not. On the contrary, Tehran hasreduced its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent, placed two-thirds of its centrifuges in storage and disabled a reactor capable of producing plutonium. For the moment, there is little danger that it could or would attempt to produce a nuclear weapon; but if the deal is ruptured, it could begin to do so — forcing a Trump administration to contemplate war.
Also earlier on November 16, Eric B. Lorber wrote that tearing up the agreement during Trump’s first few weeks in office would carry significant consequences. Although the president could walk away from the agreement and re-impose sanctions, Iran has already received approximately $100 billion. Walking away would allow Iran to continue its work on the nuclear program while enjoying this significant financial windfall.
Furthermore, on November 14, Seventy-six national security experts urged President-elect Trump to reverse his hostility to the nuclear agreement signed with Iran last year and to use it as a tool to ease other tensions with the country.
If the US acts alone, it could backfire
The key issue here is that the deal isn’t just something between the US and Iran. It’s a multilateral agreement that also involved the UK, France, Russia, Germany China, and the European Union. If the US decides it wants to fully reinstate the harsh sanctions on Iran, it has to convince its allies to do so as well. But given the momentum the agreement already has and the desire many countries have to do business with Tehran, that would be extremely difficult.
“If the US pulls out of the deal, there’s no guarantee that our European allies and Russia and China would walk away from the deal,” Kelsey Davenport, the director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association said. “In fact, they’ve indicated just the opposite.”
All the while, Iran would reap a win by being able to paint the US as a bully willing to buck agreements unilaterally. More importantly, it could decide to renew its push for nuclear weapons free of the Western sanctions that had slowed its progress for years.
To sum it up, if the US decides to withdraw from the deal, it will likely end up doing it alone, losing legitimacy in the eyes of its allies and the international community and giving Iran license to pursue nuclear weapons with significantly more economic power and less stigma than it’s had in many years.
US Senate passes 10-year extension of Iran Sanctions Act
US Senators, on December 1, voted unanimously to renew 10-year extension of existing sanctions against Iran, sending the measure to the White House for President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Iran has warned that the renewal of sanctions will be a violation of commitments under the JCPOA, and has threatened reprisal if the US extends the longstanding act.
In a public speech on Wednesday, Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei warned the US against the renewal of the Iran sanctions, noting that the Islamic Republic would respond if the US proceeded to renew ISA which expires at the end of 2016.
Now, here is a question that poses itself: What would be Iran’s next move in response to renewing ISA?