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The Folly of Reneging on the Nuclear Deal

In his interview [1] with The Wall Street Journal, Trump all but promises that he won’t approve certifying Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal later this year:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think they’ll be noncompliant. I think they’re taking advantage of this country. They’ve taken advantage of a president, named Barack Obama, who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. And I do not expect that they will be compliant.

WSJ: Will you overrule your staff on that, if they come back with a recommendation –

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, sure. Sure. Look, I have a lot of respect for Rex and his people, good relationship. It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply. And so we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll talk about this subject in 90 days. But, yeah, I would be – I would be surprised if they were in compliance.

As I said [2] a few days ago, Trump seems determined to find a way to renege on the deal. If it means ignoring the evidence that Iran is in compliance with the JCPOA, that is apparently what he’s going to do. Note that Trump just asserts, “They don’t comply,” as if it were a statement of the obvious. He takes that as a given despite the fact that it is plainly untrue. He insists that the other side is “taking advantage” of the U.S. because this is what he says about every international agreement. Trump does not judge any of these agreements by what they actually do, but simply takes for granted that the U.S. is getting ripped off in all of them. He seems incapable of recognizing a good deal when he sees one, and so his judgment of Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal is bound to be negative no matter what the facts are.

No other party to the agreement thinks Iran isn’t complying with the terms of the deal, and none of the other P5+1 governments will support the U.S. if the administration claims this. Refusing to certify Iran’s compliance will open the door to a new round of U.S. sanctions that Iran hawks in Congress are eager to impose. That would put the U.S. in clear violation of our commitments, and our government will be the one that takes the blame for undermining the deal. Reneging on the deal in this way would tell the world that the U.S. can’t be trusted to honor its commitments. Other governments that might have considered negotiating with us on major issues will have reason to doubt our government when it makes pledges and promises. It could do enormous damage to the effectiveness of U.S. diplomacy in the future. In the worst-case scenario, Iran can use that as a pretext for withdrawing from the deal all together, which will remove the restrictions currently in place on their nuclear program. If that should happen, the danger of a war with Iran increases significantly. Of course, that is what many Iran hawks want, and that is where Trump risks taking the U.S. if he chooses to renege on the deal.

12 Comments (Open | Close)

12 Comments To "The Folly of Reneging on the Nuclear Deal"

#1 Comment By Centralist On July 26, 2017 @ 9:25 am

I think this is because for a lot of Trump’s life his actions have never had consequences that affected him. To him deal are only built on him and because he is amazing they will be amazing. He cannot or more likely will not understand US Foreign Policy is built on more than just the President’s “deal” making ability. Helps though that if things go south in a bad way no one important to him will be on the frontlines.

#2 Comment By CharleyCarp On July 26, 2017 @ 10:22 am

Daniel! You’re making a Credibility Argument!

You’re not wrong, but I think pretty much everyone will understand that once we are shed of this pathetic loser, our national word will be good again. And while he’s in power, his personality defects will infect everything. This is a guy whose word is utterly meaningless, and everyone knows it.

#3 Comment By Sal On July 26, 2017 @ 10:27 am

The ultimate American – no skin in the game.

#4 Comment By Jay C On July 26, 2017 @ 10:40 am

Well, given Donald Trump’s appalling general lack-of-understanding about virtually everything to do with international affairs, that he would misunderstand or misinterpret the efficacy of the Iran nuclear deal shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

But sadly, it seem like his main – probably his only – objection to the JCPOA Agreement is that Barack Obama negotiated it. And Trump’s sick petty vengefulness regarding his predecessor is likely the main motivator of what passes for Foreign Policy in this incompetent Administration.

#5 Comment By RinTX On July 26, 2017 @ 10:52 am

Well, back when he was doing real estate development, it seemed his main cost savings method was to renege on deals with subcontractors, stiff them for what he owed them, and then claim they did not hold up their end of the deal. This is just typical behavior for Donald Trump. It’s how he regularly conducts business.

#6 Comment By reid On July 26, 2017 @ 11:38 am

Summary: “They’re not complying because I hate Obama.”

Trump is the worst kind of stupid and unserious.

#7 Comment By Habarigani On July 26, 2017 @ 12:25 pm

Unfortunately, CharleyCarp, the damage done by current administration will persist years beyond its political life.

#8 Comment By Jonathan Hill On July 26, 2017 @ 12:54 pm

Charlie Carp – Initially I had the same reaction as you, that this is a “credibility” argument that shouldn’t really mean anything going forward. But I reconsidered, because if I were a foreign country I don’t know that I could trust American commitments unless and until the fever that has produced Trump has broken. That means that the Republican Party as it is currently constituted needs to reform or go away completely.

I don’t see how other countries can have faith that we’ll act responsibly if every election brings the possibility of people like Donald Trump, Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz making decisions based on talking points from Sean Hannity.

#9 Comment By Ras al-Ghoul On July 26, 2017 @ 1:05 pm

It seems he really thinks this is a business ‘deal’ and the US should have financially profited from it. Otherwise why should US be ripped off or “taken advantage of” in an accord about limiting Iranian nuclear capacities?

#10 Comment By Chris Chuba On July 26, 2017 @ 2:39 pm

If Donald Trump had any guts he wouldn’t wait 90 days. He would withdraw from the agreement now just like he did the Paris Accords. I’d actually respect him a little bit rather than simply invent his own facts. Europe, Russia, and China will see through the ruse if he simply fails to certify compliance.

#11 Comment By CharleyCarp On July 26, 2017 @ 11:50 pm

It’s true that for the rest of time, we’ll be a people who selected this man, knowing who and what he is. I’d like to think, though, that a repudiation, and some genuine contrition, might well win us back.

The slug of folks spending their days drunk on Fox News will age out, and while we’ll probably have more left nihilism that right nihilism at some future turn of the wheel, maybe folks can take us seriously again.

#12 Comment By MEOW On July 30, 2017 @ 11:31 pm

Frustrating to say the least. Why are we bashing Russia and Iran? Who benefits? We all know. The 800 pound gorilla is out and about and proving he is a force to be reckoned with. Rolling back his incredible power will not take place in my life time. How did this happen? Hillary would be no better. Pray!!!!!!!! Immigrate to the Vatican?