Between natural disasters and NFL protests, President Donald Trump has had a lot to deal with and tweet about in recent weeks. While it’s not the most sensationalized story from the White House, Trump’s decisions about the Iranian nuclear deal may be one of his biggest international decisions to make.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Iranian nuclear deal was implemented in 2015 by the P5+1 group of world powers (United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia and China, plus Germany). The deal was an effort to prevent Iran’s nuclear power program from becoming a way to build nuclear weaponry. The Obama administration also hoped it would help the relationship between the U.S., its allies and Iran.
“As I’ve said many times, the nuclear deal was never intended to resolve all of our differences with Iran, but still engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis for the first time in decades has created a unique opportunity—a window—to try to resolve important issues,” President Barack Obama said Jan. 17, 2016.
Since October of 2015, Obama said Iran had removed two-thirds of its centrifuges that had the power to make a nuclear weapon. He also said 98 percent of the materials used to make nuclear bombs had been shipped out of the country and the nuclear centrifuge had been filled with concrete and deemed unusable.
These factors meant it would take Iran a year to make a single bomb rather than a few months, according to Obama. It also made cooperation stronger between the U.S. and Iran because a deal had been made through negotiation.
Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, he has said that he wanted to end the agreement. However, on Sept. 14, when a deadline surrounding an economic sanction exemption was suspended under the deal that was supposed to be renewed, Trump decided to continue with the plan as the Obama administration had, according to The New York Times’ David Sanger. Cabinet members warned him renewing the exemption with Iran would dismantle alliances and allow the country to access material for nuclear weaponry.
Every three months, the President has to re-certify to Congress that Iran is still complying with the deal, according to The Washington Post’s Nicholas Miller. On Sept. 19, Trump told the United Nations the deal was an embarrassment. If Trump were to decertify Iran to Congress, the deal would not end but could result in international problems.
First, Iran could end the agreement. This would allow the country to continue advancing its nuclear power and nuclear weaponry because it would no longer be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency as the deal mandates.
Second, it would interfere with cooperation between the U.S. and other nations involved in the deal. Decertifying Iran would impede on the country’s relationship with allies and could send a message that the U.S. does not wish to continue efforts to prevent nuclear weapon construction.
Currently, Trump has said he would try to change and rework the agreement rather than end it by decertifying Iran. He also wants to make more restrictions to control Iran’s nuclear power.
His ideas for the deal are still unclear, but Cabinet members seem to understand how critical it is to make careful decisions when regarding Iran.