The Folly of Reneging on the Nuclear Deal
Our allies issued a reminder this week that none of the other parties to the nuclear deal with Iran is willing to renegotiate it:
Gérard Araud, the French ambassador, said that it was not just the Europeans who refused to renegotiate but also Iran as well as China and Russia. Their position, he said, was, “‘No way. There won’t be any reopening of the agreement. The agreement is working as it is.’”
Should the United States end the agreement and attempt to penalize European companies doing business with Iran, David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador, said that Europe could respond with its own measures against the United States.
If Trump insists on ignoring Iran’s compliance with the deal and refuses to certify the deal next month, the U.S. will be sharply at odds with our major European allies and there will be no possibility of renegotiating the agreement. The German, British, French, and EU ambassadors could not have made it any more clear than they have: reneging on the deal will isolate the U.S. on this issue. Beyond that, reneging on a major international agreement will call into question whether the U.S. can be trusted to honor its obligations elsewhere and it will make it more difficult for the U.S. to negotiate other difficult agreements like this one.
The Trump administration likes to say that “America first is not America alone,” but in practice they have a knack for alienating the rest of the world while failing to advance American interests. Reneging on the deal has nothing to do with putting America first and everything to do with subordinating American interests to those of our regional clients. Continuing the nuclear deal is in the national interest in at least two ways: it advances one of our standing goals of supporting nonproliferation and it reduces the likelihood of a new and costly war by resolving the issue diplomatically. Reneging on the deal would mean the opposite, and it would strain relations with all of the other members of the P5+1. The U.S. would gain nothing from reneging on the deal, and if it pressed ahead with secondary sanctions it would risk a trade war with our allies.