National Security Experts Agree: The Iran Deal Works

“The president and the Republican-controlled Congress are not only playing with fire” when it comes to the Iran Deal, writes lead Iran deal negotiator Wendy Sherman in The New York Times. With decertification, “they are lighting it themselves.”

“The deal was intended to keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, a crucial and necessary goal,” opined The New York Times’ Editorial Board. “Critics ignore the fact that the deal is doing that, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, which rigorously monitors Iran’s activities, and even Mr. Trump’s own State Department have certified.” Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of IISS-Americas, worries that Trump’s decertification “without reliable avenues of communication and de-escalatory options risks putting the U.S. on a direct path of conflict, regardless of whether Congress snaps back sanctions on Iran.”

Renegotiating the deal is a non-starter: “Iran will not renegotiate this deal and Europe will not renegotiate this deal,” says Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council. “It’s this or it’s nothing… And if it’s nothing, Iran can rapidly reconstitute its program and we will have two major nuclear crises on our hands at the same time.” Critics arguing for renegotiation due to sunset provisions are misguided: “scuttling the deal because of its sunset provisions,” argues International Crisis Group’s Senior Iran Analyst Ali Vaez, “is akin to committing suicide out of fear of death.” Arms Control Association’s Director for Nonproliferation Policy Kelsey Davenport agrees: “additional restrictions and transparency measures provide the international community with a powerful set of tools to detect and deter an Iranian attempt to pursue nuclear weapons development well beyond the initial 15-year period now at issue.”

“Washington’s credibility will be damaged for the next time we want countries to agree to something,” says Wendy Sherman. “Indeed, we are likely to lose any possibility of dialogue with North Korea because Pyongyang will assume the United States will not honor its commitments, even on multilateral agreements… Whether the Trump administration’s decertification unravels the deal quickly or slowly, unjustified unilateral American action will give the Iranians the moral high ground, allowing them to rightly say that it was the United States, not them, who killed the deal.” The New York Times’ Editorial Board agrees: Trump’s “threats to jettison the Iran nuclear deal are undermining America’s credibility as a negotiating partner and weakening America’s ability to lead the free world as it has for 70 years.”

Yet “decertification is only half the story,” says National Iranian American Council President Trita Parsi. “The bigger threat to the deal is Trump’s apparent intention to ratchet up pressure in the region on Tehran. Doing so risks not only scuppering the agreement, but putting the U.S. and Iran on a collision course that could result in outright conflict… Under these circumstances, even the wisest and most competent of Presidents could easily find him or herself losing control over events.”

--Rose Blanchard is a Research Assistant at Ploughshares Fund.

More resources:

--“Unforced Error: The Risks of Confrontation with Iran” by Emma Ashford and John Glaser for CATO Institute, October 9, 2017 here.

--“Talking The Iran Deal With Iranian American Council Founder/Author Trita Parsi” by Sean Kent and CJ Werleman for Resistance Radio Podcast, October 6, 2017 here.

--“As Trump Tries to Kill the Iran Deal, a Former Israeli Spy Lobbies to Save It” by Robin Wright for The New Yorker, October 5, 2017 here.

--“Mr. Trump, Don’t Scrap the Iran Deal” by The New York Times Editorial Board, October 6, 2017 here.



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