In one of his many new reform-oriented actions, Donald Trump recently announced the withdrawal of the United States of America from the Iran nuclear deal- the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The agreement was struck in July 2015 and sought to end the 12 years of deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear program. In return for complying with the terms of the agreement, the sanctions that were previously imposed on Iran were lifted, reconnecting it with the global economy. Formulated by the Obama administration, the parties to the deal are the group of countries commonly known as the P5+1: the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (The UK, US, France, Russia and China), and Germany. As a part of the deal, Iran shipped out its Uranium and closed down its centrifuges, while also agreeing to rigorous international monitoring. The decision for withdrawal was met with a large degree of concern, as well as confusion- as Iran was accused of building a nuclear program, with no proof given to back the claim.
The authority that was in charge of verifying the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), provided a verification (performed over ten times) that Tehran was complying with the terms of the agreement. While Israel extended full support to Trump, the allies UK, Germany and France expressed concern over the decision, and expressed their plan to continue abiding by the agreement. The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani went on to say that he still had faith in the deal if the European allies defied Trump. Former US President Barack Obama also warned the Trump administration about the dire consequences that could follow the scrapping of the deal.
Donald Trump had already signified his disregard towards the deal in the 2016 election campaigns; but what was expected was a more stringent and strict implementation, rather than a withdrawal itself. This decision also comes as another item on the list of policies of the Obama Administration that the new political order has decided to overturn, after Obamacare and the Paris accords for climate change.
The immediate consequence is that Iran is virtually free to build a nuclear weapons program, and this gives other countries in the Middle East incentive to do the same. The confrontational policy adopted by America, along with a threatening psychological war has put many international observers in a position to question if a war could really break out. The Iraq war began with speculations that the country was hoarding weapons of mass destruction, the proof of which was discredited later; it brings us now to question, has America not learnt from its previous mistakes?
The international fraternity has made several attempts to convince Trump to renegotiate, or fix the deal, instead of dissolving it entirely- fearing the geopolitical insecurity that will ensue. While the USA’s relations with those it relies most on will be jeopardized, it is also imperative to look towards the effects it will have on the global economy, especially with respect to crude oil prices, that have already jumped this quarter. Along with the massive economic effect that the increasing crude prices will have, Trump’s move has also left India to answer tough questions about its relationship with Iran. The secondary sanctions imposed by the United States on other nations led Boeing and Europe’s Airbus to lose out, making it clear that they were not the only ones in line.
Another major global concern, perhaps, is the effect that this will have on the ongoing amendments with North Korea. Though a more indirect effect, North Korea may turn vary in order to enter into an agreement to dismantle its nuclear program with the United States, returning to a more serious grey area. While Trump confirmed that the highest-level sanctions will be reinstated, the burning question remains- how many more accords will the Trump administration pull out of? Following the Paris agreement, the approach of the new political order in the United States was criticized severely, and the move to unilaterally pull out of the JCPOA leaves us to wonder what else is in store.
As for the international effects, the global community must brace itself, and Iran’s allies must make the decision of whether or not to continue friendly relations with the Islamic Republic. There remains little to be said except that history may repeat itself where a potential war in the middle east is concerned, further plagued by the volatile North Korea and crippling international order.
Picture Credits: Time