The ink on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) of 2015, has barely dried yet the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is uncertain. When the P5+1 (the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China – plus Germany) and the European Union signed the Iran nuclear framework with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the lines seemed pretty much to be drawn in the sand. But there have been forces that have not been in support of the Iran nuclear deal for various reasons. Since 2015, Mr. Trump made it known that he would nullify the deal and has constantly called it a ‘bad deal’. His disdain for the Iran nuclear deal is also shared by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. With the Iran deal dangling in muddy uncertain waters, one has to question its fate as well as what this means for the global nonproliferation regime moving forward.
The hostility towards the JCPOA from both Israel and Mr. Trump is mostly rooted in both parties being suspicious of the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, for Mr. Trump, the hostility goes further than that. Mr. Trump has shown a deep animosity towards anything that was passed or signed by the former US President Barack Obama. Therefore, the fate of the JCPOA is in the hands of a US President that does not understand the separation between personal vendettas and informed statesmanship in the complex arena of global diplomacy. Mr. Trump has managed to drive US policy based on his personal feelings towards the last US President and not only is this a defeat to the office of US president, it is a threat to the peace and security of the world. Besides, the fate of the Iran nuclear deal being left to Mr. Trump’s vendetta against President Obama, what else is Mr. Trump willing to jeopardize in an effort to dismantle President Obama’s legacy?
It is questionable that in an era where world leaders are uncertain on how to handle North Korea’s nuclear program, the Trump administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would rather have the Iran nuclear deal nullified to the detriment of the nuclear nonproliferation initiative. Withdrawing from the Deal would certainly not do any favors to global security and Israel’s
standing in the Middle East. What the opponents of the Iran Nuclear Deal do not realize is that, the Deal has affected Iran’s enrichment capacity, level and stockpile and Iran can no longer reprocess anymore fuel rods. In other words, Iran’s nuclear program cannot flourish under the existing JCPOA of 2015. The argument that the JCPOA is not perfect is true, but that does not mean the Iran nuclear deal should be thrown away completely. There are no international agreements that can be unanimously praised as perfect, the stance to support or rebuke any international deal depends on each party’s motives. What skeptics of the Deal should be doing is looking for other means to improve on the current Framework without nullifying an agreement that has curbed Iran’s enrichment process. Arguably, the Iran Deal is a testament that diplomacy can solve issues of nuclear proliferation if the right checks and balances are put into place. The international system cannot resort to ‘fire and fury’ or follow George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq to curb nuclear proliferation.
In April 2018, the French President Emmanuel Macron was in Washington to persuade an unpredictable U.S. President not to disengage from the Iran nuclear deal. President Macron’s visit was
a precursor to the 12 May deadline for continuing the deal. Based on the unpredictability of Mr. Trump and the pressure he is getting from Benjamin Netanyahu; the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is unknown. Even though, Mr. Macron argues that the current deal is “not sufficient” to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions he also acknowledges the fact that it is the only deal that is available on the table. The threats to the deal and hostility alone will not help curb Iran enrichment program in the way that the current framework does. Therefore, those that seek to move away from the current framework that has stalled Iran’s progression in nuclear armament should first create an alternative before they have another rogue nuclear state that threatens global security and the prospects of achieving absolute nuclear disarmament.
Based on my knowledge of past arms control, disarmament, and nonproliferation agreements, the Iran nuclear deal is doing exactly what is supposed to do to a nuclear program that was going rogue. When the JCPOA was initiated I was one of many proliferation nerds that were skeptical and worried on its enforcement mainly from the Iranian side. However, my skepticism towards the deal has evolved to an appreciation while also taking into cognizance what could be improved in the deal. Under the current framework Iran could never attain the bomb and without the framework that gap closes. It is time that the fate of the Iran nuclear deal is not decided based on emotions but simple achievable practicality. What I mean by simple achievable practicality is that, leaders that have a disdain for a nuclear armed Iran together with an Iran that has been curbed from progressing with the nuclear program should pick a side. Would they rather Iran progress with the nuclear program or would they rather keep and improve the framework that is already curbing the Islamic Republic’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The answer is clear the Iran nuclear deal is effective and verifiable than the alternative.