By Mohammad Homaeefar

Trump wavering between ripping, keeping nuclear deal

April 23, 2017

TEHRAN – Following months of anti-Iran rhetoric, it appears that the new administration in the U.S. is changing its course towards Tehran and the international agreement it struck with six world powers.

U.S. President Donald Trump had repeatedly criticized the nuclear deal during his presidential campaign trail, calling it the “worst deal ever” and vowing to “tear it up” immediately after he becomes president.

However, after he assumed office, the world started to take him more seriously, with several world leaders reminding him that they strongly support the nuclear deal. 

Just days into his presidency, Trump suddenly changed his mind and said he would “rigorously” enforce the nuclear deal.

According to the White House, President Trump and Saudi King Salman had a phone conversation, during which they “agreed on the importance of rigorously enforcing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and of addressing Iran's destabilizing regional activities.”

After months of flip-flopping on the issue, Trump recently claimed that Iran has not lived up to the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement.

“I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement. It shouldn't have been signed,” he said. “They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement, I can tell you that.”

It came after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, in which he confirmed Iran was compliant with its commitments under the nuclear accord. 

Tillerson’s reluctant admission was followed by yet another accusation against the Islamic Republic, claiming Iran is “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” 

Subsequently, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter to respond to Tillerson’s accusations, stressing that instead of repeating accusations against Iran, the U.S. should fulfil its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal. 

Trump’s decision to either tear up or keep the agreement will become clear around May 19 when he will have to decide whether or not to suspend some anti-Iran sanctions. The date corresponds with the presidential election in Iran.  

If the U.S. does not sign off the waivers which will expire on May 19, the sanctions will go back into place and this would be a serious violation of the nuclear deal, probably leading to profound consequences. 

Analysts, however, say this is an unlikely scenario as it would be detrimental to the interests of the United States or that of Trump.

Before leaving office, former President Barack Obama warned against “tearing up” the deal, emphasizing that it could have “significant and concrete” consequences.

Senior Iranian officials have also dismissed Trump’s inconsistent stance on the issue, saying Tehran reserves the right to “act accordingly” if Washington reconsiders the nuclear deal.

Iran “is fully prepared to return to the pre-JCPOA situation or even [to conditions] more robust than that if the U.S. reneges on its promises to the extent that the JCPOA’s continuation harms our national interests,” Zarif said in March.

MH/PA

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