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The Stupidity of Trying to ‘Rewrite’ the Nuclear Deal

"Rewriting" the requirements of an agreement made in good faith is a dishonest and treacherous way to deal with other governments.

The Wall Street Journal editors make a ludicrous argument in favor of a “revised” deal with Iran:

This is a major advance, and it offers hope that the U.S. and France, Britain and Germany can agree on a revised pact. Contrary to common misunderstanding, Iran, Russia and China wouldn’t have to agree to these changes. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known, isn’t a treaty. Mr. Obama never submitted it for Senate approval because he knew it would be defeated. The deal is essentially a set of assurances agreed to at the United Nations that lack the force of U.S. law.

The JCPOA was endorsed by a U.N. Security Council resolution (UNSCR 2231), so all member states are obliged to respect the deal as it was written. The deal wasn’t a treaty, but that doesn’t give the U.S. license to violate it or arbitrarily change it after the fact. Indeed, every attempt to “rewrite” an agreement once it has already been made is a violation that makes U.S. promises seem worthless.

There is no “Western consensus” in support of “rewriting” the deal. Germany has no interest in revising the agreement, and has said so explicitly. If the U.S. and France cook up some other agreement between themselves, none of the other parties will respect its terms. If one or two parties to the agreement can go back and “rewrite” the parts they don’t like whenever they want, none of the other parties will see any reason to abide by its requirements. Thinking that the U.S. can “rewrite” a deal and that the other side simply has to go along with it is as arrogant as it is stupid.

Iran would have to agree to any changes because Iran would be the one implementing those changes, and their government has said many times in no uncertain terms that this isn’t going to happen. The reason for this should be obvious: Iran isn’t going to agree to make additional concessions when the other parties have no intention of offering them anything more, and Iran already gave up as much as it was prepared to concede the first time. Iran isn’t going to give up more when they are under less pressure and have more international support. Besides, if they accepted a “rewrite” of the deal now, it would just be a matter of time until the U.S. came back with another “rewrite” and then another after that.

“Rewriting” the requirements of an agreement made in good faith is a dishonest and treacherous way to deal with other governments. Other governments can see that for what it is, and they will know that the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep its end of a bargain. All of this talk about a “new deal” is just a bit of kabuki to distract from the fact that the U.S. is about to renege on its international commitments for no good reason. Hawks are desperate to spread blame around for their reckless scrapping of a working nonproliferation agreement, but everyone can see through this. When the deal falls apart, the Trump administration and its hawkish allies will be the only ones responsible.



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