Deal breaker

Trump’s decision has left America with a Hobson’s choice between a nuclear-armed Iran and another war in the Middle East

AuthorPublished: 10th May 2018  12:18 amUpdated: 9th May 2018  10:07 pm

Among all the reckless decisions of the United States President Donald Trump, this one takes the cake. A landmark deal, firmed up after years of painstaking diplomacy, is now on the brink of collapse after Trump’s announcement to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement. The dramatic move will impact the geopolitics in the Middle East and beyond. Despite intense lobbying by the European Union members, who were among the seven signatories to the Obama-era international agreement, to save the deal, Trump had his way with a decision that is the most disastrous of his presidency so far. This demonstrates his uncanny ability to irk both his friends and foes alike. The impulsive decision will leave America isolated from its allies and, more importantly, prompt Iran to pursue its nuclear programme more aggressively without any international constraints. India has a reason to worry as it might be forced to review its list of oil suppliers in the wake of a possible re-imposition of oil sanctions against Iran. India has been a major importer of Iranian crude. The re-imposition of sanctions on Iran threatens to tighten global oil markets and could derail business deals worth billions of dollars. It is ironic that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US intelligence community and the United Nations Security Council have all concluded that Iran has fully complied with its obligations under the 2015 agreement. As required, Iran relinquished 97% of its enriched uranium stockpile, dismantled two-thirds of its centrifuges and its entire plutonium facility, abided by the most intrusive international inspection and monitoring regime in history, and forswore ever producing a nuclear weapon.

The deal, a key foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama, had effectively cut off all potential pathways for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. But, with Trump’s thoughtless action, Iran will now face fresh sanctions while France, Germany and Britain will also face American sanctions for doing business with Tehran. China and Russia, also signatories to the deal, are likely to back Iran in its stand-off with the United States. The collapse of the deal and the resultant sanctions could embolden hardline elements within Iran, fuel an arms race in the Middle East and fan sectarian conflicts from Syria to Yemen. For Trump, however, the move comes as a fulfilment of his campaign promise to scrap what he calls a fatally flawed agreement. His hawkish supporters might present it as a no-nonsense approach that could strengthen his hands ahead of the historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to negotiate the surrender of nuclear arsenal by the reclusive communist country. Trump’s decision has left America with a Hobson’s choice between a nuclear-armed Iran and another war in the Middle East.