Dismantling Iran’s 5+1 Deal Can Be Trump’s First Step to Isolationism
Donald Trump‘s election means the peace deal with Iran is called into question. President Barack Obama saw the deal with Tehran as part of his legacy. That is why the deal is now vulnerable: tarnish that, and you tarnish his legacy.
The Iran 5+1 Iran deal – Germany, Britain, France, Russia, the United States, plus Iran – was concluded on July 14th, 2015 had economic and political significance.
Economically, the deal brought back to the global market a major energy producer and a demographically appealing 80 million strong market, opening up new possibilities for Eurasian Trade and investment.
In military terms, Iran undertook to reduce the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds, cap its level of uranium enrichment well below the level needed for bomb-grade material, and reduce its enriched uranium stockpile from 10,000 kg to 300 kg. All that will be subject to international monitoring and inspections.
Netanyahu spared no expense or effort, going to the US to address the Senate, but to no avail. The hawkish former Senator, Joe Lieberman, poured millions into derailing the deal through the United Against Nuclear Iran group. Still, the agreement was ratified.
But, the ratification process was anything but easy for the White House.
U.S. Senate Democrats derailed legislation meant to kill the deal with Iran. By a 56-42 vote, almost a year ago, the Republican-majority Senate fell short of the 60 votes required to advance the Republican-sponsored bill designed to stop the US administration from ending sanctions against Iran.
Israel campaigned hard. Four Democrats Senators – Ben Cardin, Joe Manchin, Robert Menendez and Charles Schumer – voted with the Republicans. Both Ben Cardin and Charles Schumer are Democratic heavyweights. But, they went over to the Republican side alone, which shows how hard they were lobbied in their own home communities rather than the strength of the argument they carried.
Through Trump, the Iran deal will be revisitted
Iran resurged as a major theme in the 2016 presidential race.
Addressing the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby, Trump called the nuclear pact a “disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated,” which could lead to a “nuclear holocaust.”
“It’s a one-sided transaction where we are giving back $150 bn to a terrorist state,” he promised to “rip up” the deal.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will no doubt remind him of these promises.
Richard Nephew, a former US negotiator in the 5+1 deal, spelled out the threat: “say goodbye to the Iran deal,” he said on Wednesday. Nephew expects the deal will collapse, “either because of a deliberate decision to tear it up by Trump, or steps that the U.S. takes which prompt an Iranian walk back,” Reuters reports.
Trump has also promised to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, which should alienate him both from the Muslim and many of his European partners.
Iranian haks meet Israeli hawks
Tehran is uneasy. On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javed Zarif was visiting Romania. From Bucharest, he pleaded with the US to “fulfill its commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a multilateral international agreement.”
Iran’s pragmatist President, Hassan Rouhani, will now need to fend off his own hardline opposition that had warned him not to trust the West.
Rouhani vowed on Wednesday to remain on course, the IRNA reports.
The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, is now getting a chance to undermine Rouhani’s authority. In getting rid of his legitimacy, he can undermine the legitimacy of the deal and vice versa. The two are linked. Khamenei is promising to set ablaze the nuclear deal, which brings the Ayatollah in perfect alignment with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel.
If Washington wants to alienate Iran, it might have to do it alone. Donald Trump’s clout in Europe is zero. Moreover, Russia, China, and European states are already in Tehran and in business. The question is whether Iran could see this as an opportunity to return to business while blaming the US for terminating the deal.