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The Trump Administration’s Fantasy World

President Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com, European External Action Service/Flickr

Despite being punished with the illegitimate reimposition of nuclear sanctions, Iran continues to comply with the requirements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA):

Iran has been abiding by the terms of its nuclear deal with global powers, the latest report from the UN atomic watchdog indicated Monday, days after fresh US sanctions hit the country.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report showed that as of early November, Iran had been complying with the restrictions to its nuclear programme laid down in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iran has been in compliance with the JCPOA since its implementation began three years ago. This is the thirteenth consecutive time that the IAEA has reported Iran’s compliance. To date, it has been one of the mot successful nonproliferation agreements ever negotiated, and it achieved everything that it was supposed to achieve. Even though the U.S. reneged on the deal and reimposed sanctions without justification, Iran has kept up its end of the agreement anyway. The nuclear deal continues to work as intended for now despite the Trump administration’s efforts to destroy it, but we should not assume that Iran will indefinitely keep honoring a deal from which it derives little or no benefit.

Nicholas Miller observes that the administration’s positions on both North Korea and Iran are divorced from reality:

In both cases, the administration won’t face facts, and instead creates fantasies that cater to the president’s delusions. North Korea isn’t disarming, never agreed to disarm, and isn’t going to agree to disarm, but in the fantasy version the administration insists they have already agreed to give up everything. Iran isn’t building a nuclear weapon, and thanks to the JCPOA it has no means to do so, so of course the administration fantasy is that the deal is the worst ever negotiated that “paves the way” to a bomb. They chase after an unobtainable agreement with North Korea while throwing away a successful one with Iran that already exists.

Both fantasies are founded on disdain for diplomacy and the compromise that it requires. There would have been no nuclear deal with Iran if the P5+1 had not agreed to some compromises (e.g., allowing limited enrichment), and there won’t be any agreement with North Korea as long as the administration insists on its maximalist demands. Administration officials claim that North Korea has capitulated because of “maximum pressure” (neither part is true), and now they seek to replicate that fictional success with Iran. Back in the real world, North Korea has agreed to nothing and Iran still honors the agreement that our government violated for no good reason. The administration is so hung up on the fantasy versions of its own policies because they flatter the president and because facing up to reality would be admitting that both their North Korea and Iran policies are failing on their own terms.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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