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Nuclear deal in danger — on Trump's UNGA address
Posted:Sep 20, 2017
 
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U.S. President Donald Trump’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal is not new. But by choosing his first address at the UN General Assembly, in which he listed his administration’s foreign policy priorities, to slam Tehran and the nuclear accord, he has put to rest any hope for improvement in ties with Iran. In his tirade on Tuesday, he called the Iran deal, which the U.S. and five other countries had signed with Tehran two years ago, an “embarrassment”, and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into”. Unsurprisingly, it triggered a reaction from Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called out Mr. Trump’s “ignorant hate speech”, which he said belonged to “medieval times”.
 
 The message from the Trump administration is clear and consistent: the Obama-era pragmatism was an aberration and the decades-old hostility between the U.S. and the theocratic regime in Tehran stands resumed. The real test before Mr. Trump and the Iranians comes in less than a month. According to U.S. law, the administration must certify the Iran deal every 90 days. The Trump administration has twice done so, and the next deadline is October 15. Mr. Trump has already signalled that he would withdraw the certification next time. If he does so, it would be the beginning of the unravelling of an agreement that was forged after months of intense negotiation.
 
Failure of the U.S. to respect an international agreement it’s a signatory to would set a dangerous precedent. For all its shortcomings, the Iran nuclear deal is a multilateral agreement. And it has shown results. What had appeared to be an irresolvable issue only three years ago is now settled. International agencies have repeatedly certified that Iran is fully compliant with the terms of the agreement, which means the country is not pursuing any nuclear weapons programme. In plain terms, the deal is a success as it prevented a country with potential nuclear capabilities from developing weapons, and all this without a shot being fired. If the U.S. is serious about non-proliferation, it should use the Iran deal to resolve other complex international conflicts. What’s happening is just the contrary. Iran has been slapped with more sanctions by the U.S. over its missile programme.
 
 If Iran is not spared even after it agreed to give up a substantial part of its nuclear programme under a multilateral agreement, what message does it send to other countries about international diplomacy? No doubt, Mr. Trump’s continued attack on the Iran deal pleases hard-line supporters at home as well as Arab allies and Israel in West Asia. But it is undermining the global non-proliferation regime and international institutions. Should the U.S. pull out of the Iran deal, it would be a great setback for rules-based multilateral mechanisms.
 
 
 
 
 
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