Hassan Rouhani press conference 1 yr anniversary of nuclear deal Atta Kenare/Getty Images

Trump, Iran, and Stability in the Middle East

The Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement offer hope that formalized, multilateral responses to global challenges are still possible. But Donald Trump has criticized both agreements, and the actions he takes as president could undermine them, and contribute to global instability.

MADRID – It is unfortunate that so few international agreements have been reached in recent years. During a period when great-power competition has generally trumped cooperation, two significant exceptions – the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement – offer hope that formalized, multilateral responses to global challenges are still possible.

But now Donald Trump is threatening to renege on both agreements, and his election as President of the United States has revealed their fragility. If the US withdraws from, or fails to comply with, either deal, it will strike a heavy blow to a global-governance system that relies on multilateral agreements to resolve international problems.

To see what is at stake, consider the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the E3/EU3+3 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany and the European Union). The JCPOA’s first anniversary coincided with Trump’s inauguration, so it is worth recalling how it came about – and what could happen if it falls apart.

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