Analyzing the Iran Deal and Trump’s Options

by Andrew Johnson

As is usual, media coverage of the so-called “Iran Deal” has been horribly lopsided, dumbed-down, and mostly devoid of useful information. To understand Trump’s choices, we must first understand what the Iran Deal entails. The official name of the deal is the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”. This was an agreement reached by then President Obama, Iran, and several other world powers in 2015. The stated goal of this deal was to reduce the capability Iran had of manufacturing nuclear weapons, primarily by reducing their access to important radioactive elements, which include plutonium and uranium. In return, harsh economic and militaristic sanctions placed on Iran were to be lifted.

However, the deal does not actually prevent Iran from continuing to enrich uranium. The text of the agreement states that “Based on its long-term plan, for 15 years, Iran will carry out its uranium enrichment related activities…” Under the deal, Iran can also continue developing advanced centrifuges, which accelerate the rate at which they can create nuclear weapons. One specific provision of this deal is that Iran cannot utilize their centrifuges to manufacture enriched uranium. There is an easy workaround however; under the deal, Iran is permitted to sell their current stockpile of enriched uranium. In return for this sale, they will receive natural uranium, which their mines are currently running out of. Moreover, their current stockpile (as of 2015) of enriched uranium is enough to make 10 nuclear bombs, according to then President Obama.

Another controversial element of this deal is the very limited inspection of nuclear sites. Under the deal, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is not allowed to inspect “non-declared nuclear sites.” Whether or not a site is declared nuclear is left to current intel; Iran only has to enrich at a site that is not formally declared nuclear, and they can continue to develop nuclear weapons legally, under this deal. Under this deal, a radical Islamist theocracy and known state sponsor of terrorism that refuses to sign missile control treaties, will be allowed to continue their missile program which includes creating ICBM’s that can strike Europe, Israel, or the US.

Another controversial element of this deal is the fact that inspections of nuclear sites are very limited. Under the deal, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) is not allowed to inspect “non-declared nuclear sites.” Whether or not a site is declared nuclear is left to current intel; Iran only has to enrich at a site that is not declared nuclear, and they can continue to develop nuclear weapons legally, under this deal. Under the guise of diplomacy, it appears that the previous administration has engaged in outright appeasement.

The day that Iran “formally implemented” the deal, the Obama administration secretly floated $400 million via plane to Iran. The money was stacked on pallets and included Swiss francs, euros, and other forms of currency. However, Congress earlier had banned cash transfers to Iran due to their illegal activities; so the Obama administration found a loophole through buying foreign currency and transferring it in that way. This drew harsh criticism from Republicans at the time, which was well-warranted. President Trump repeatedly criticized the Iran deal while he was campaigning, and promised to disavow it if elected. He continues to criticize it after his election; on February 3rd the President tweeted, “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” However, Trump has taken his time and worked with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before coming to an official conclusion. On October 13th, Trump declared that the deal is “no longer in US interest,” but did not yet fully withdraw from it.

President Trump has several choices: Firstly, to repudiate his campaign rhetoric and leave the agreement as it stands, likely to the detriment of American foreign policy. Second, to completely withdraw from the agreement and formulate his own Iran policy, or third, to modify the current Iran deal to his administration’s approval.

It is the author’s opinion that the President completely withdraw from this agreement and terminate any involvement the US has in it. This “deal” clearly favors Iran and allows them to continue testing ballistic missiles. It seems obvious that the US should not so easily allow Iran, a country which strongly opposes existing US interests, to carry on testing ballistic missiles in the hopes of developing a functional ICBM. Despite the need for a reformulation of our foreign policy, and even in light of the difficulties of preventing the rising regional power of Iran from acting unilaterally, such a show of weakness is unlikely to produce any positive results, especially considering that it has apparently bought us precious little goodwill from Iran. President Trump and the allies of the US ought to kill this deal as soon as possible, so that a more balanced diplomatic agreement can be achieved.

Sources:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/10/13/iran-nuclear-deal-what-is-it.html
https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2165399/full-text-of-the-iran-nuclear-deal.pdf
http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/355316-trump-makes-his-move-on-iran-nuke-deal
http://www.newsweek.com/iran-lawmakers-chant-death-america-vote-expand-missileprogram-260-million-650396