A Devious Threat to a Nuclear Deal

Nikki Haley laid the Trump administration’s cards on the table this week with a new proposal aimed at sabotaging one of the Obama administration’s most important diplomatic initiatives – the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. President Trump promised during his campaign to kill the deal, despite its clear benefits to American security. Ms. Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, has set forth a scheme that could not only allow Mr. Trump to carry out his threat, but also shift final responsibility to Congress.
The whole idea makes no sense to anyone but Mr. Trump’s hard-line advisers, who see Iran as the root of evil in the Persian Gulf. Instead of making sure the agreement works, the president would give Iran an excuse to revive what had been a rapidly advancing nuclear capability and confront the world with another intractable nuclear challenge in addition to North Korea.
The deal, negotiated with Tehran by the United States and other major powers, imposed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities for 10 years in return for a lifting of international and American sanctions. As an added check, Congress requires the administration to certify every 90 days that Iran is abiding by the deal, in order to continue qualifying for relief from American sanctions. The administration has twice reluctantly certified Iran’s compliance and is required to revisit the issue again next month. Ms. Haley said she doesn’t know what Mr. Trump’s decision will be. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which put unprecedented strong procedures in place for monitoring Iran’s activities, has repeatedly judged that Iran is fulfilling its obligations. In July, Gen. Paul Selva of the Air Force, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that based on evidence submitted to intelligence agencies, “it appears that Iran is in compliance.”
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See Sample Privacy Policy Opt out or contact us anytime Mr. Trump, however, has reportedly kept pushing his advisers to find a way out, and Ms. Haley appears to have answered the call. The essence of her case, presented Tuesday to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, is that technical compliance with the nuclear-related commitments is not sufficient and that the president “has grounds” to declare that Iran is not fulfilling the agreement because of other destabilizing or objectionable behavior, like its ballistic missile tests, support for Hezbollah and hostility toward the United States.
“We must consider the whole jigsaw puzzle,” she said, “not just one of its pieces.” She’s wrong. While Iran indeed is engaging in some very worrisome pursuits, the deal is confined to the nuclear program. As long as Tehran is staying within those limits, Mr. Trump has no reason not to certify compliance. The United States and its partners need to find other ways, including sanctions already in place and dialogue, to mitigate Iran’s other behavior. In the national interest, Washington has often held its nose and dealt with aggressive or unsavory governments, among them the Soviet Union, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt.
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Ms. Haley misleads further when she argues that it would not constitute an American withdrawal from the deal if Mr. Trump didn’t certify Iranian compliance. That kind of spin will convince no one, and it won’t protect Mr. Trump for being blamed for whatever follows, including outrage from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China, which are also parties to the agreement.

Source : The New York Times


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