Iran nuclear deal could collapse under Trump
The future of the historic nuclear agreement with Iran is in the air with the prospect that a Donald Trump administration could take steps that would cause Iran to abandon its commitments, experts said Wednesday.
Some characterized Trump's election as a death knell for the deal, which was reached in 2014 and put into effect in January. It imposes limits on Iran's nuclear program and its ability to build atomic weapons for at least 10 years in exchange for lifting most international sanctions.
“I think it's basically the end game for the deal,” said Richard Nephew, a Columbia University professor who was the lead sanctions expert on the U.S. negotiating team. “It's very hard for me to see, based on the rhetoric, letting it stand as is, or not doing something that forces the Iranians to walk away.”
Though it has been applauded by allies that negotiated alongside the United States — Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the European Union — the agreement has been heavily criticized in Congress. Republican lawmakers in particular say it has rewarded Iran for taking U.S. citizens prisoner and enabled the country's aggression in regional conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
“My No. 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” Trump said in a speech to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC during the campaign. He later said he would try to renegotiate the agreement and increase U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Iran is concerned enough about what Trump may do that senior officials Wednesday urged a Trump administration to live up to commitments made by the United States.
President Hassan Rouhani, a relative pragmatist who pushed for the deal hoping to open Iranian's reclusive society to the international economy, said Trump cannot change the agreement.
“Iran's understanding of the nuclear deal was that the accord was not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council, and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government,” he said on Iran state television Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of Iran, said the United States must stick to the agreed-upon details.
“Every U.S. president has to understand the realities of today's world,” he said Wednesday, as reported by the Tehran Times. “The most important thing is that the future U.S. president sticks to agreements, to engagements undertaken.”