A Blueprint to Save the Iran Deal
By unilaterally reneging on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump has once again taken a wrecking ball to his own country's legacy of global leadership. It is now incumbent upon the European Union to step in and preserve the deal, lest the Middle East slide into full-scale chaos.
BRUSSELS – There can no longer be any doubt that “America First” means precisely that. In abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump rejected the advice of allies and showed an utter disregard for the interests of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the broader international community. French President Emmanuel Macron’s last-minute effort to construct a broader diplomatic approach toward Iran was sidelined in the final hour, with little to no explanation from the Trump administration.
As with Trump’s other acts of vandalism against the international order – not least his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – his sabotage of the Iran deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), leaves it to other countries to pick up the pieces. The decision no doubt delights Trump’s domestic political base, which revels in his dismantling of the key achievements of his predecessor, Barack Obama. But the JCPOA was also a major success for the European Union. It was Europeans, after all, who paved the way for negotiations with Iran in the first place. And the deal itself significantly reduces the chances of nuclear proliferation in Europe’s backyard.
Attempting to justify his decision, Trump recently tweeted, “Remember how badly Iran was behaving with the Iran Deal in place. They were trying to take over the Middle East by whatever means necessary. Now, that will not happen!” But while it is true that Iranian influence has been spreading in the Middle East, there is no good reason to think that unilaterally terminating the JCPOA will suddenly change that fact. If anything, the decision could embolden Iranian hardliners and lead to even more Iranian meddling in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere. In fact, almost immediately after Trump’s announcement on the JCPOA, Iranian troops stationed in Syria reportedly fired rockets into Israel.