President Trump’s advisers barely prevailed on him not to scrap the nuclear agreement with Iran last week, staving off for 120 days a self-inflicted foreign policy disaster. But Mr. Trump did the next-worst thing: He issued an ultimatum to Congress and America’s European allies demanding far-reaching changes in the accord, and pledging to terminate it if they do not comply. For a man who often boasts about his dealmaking ability, it was a stunningly graceless move that could trigger an unnecessary crisis four months from now.
As we have frequently pointed out, the nuclear deal is flawed, particularly in sunset provisions that eventually would allow Iran to resume enriching an unlimited amount of uranium — which, in turn, would reduce the time it needed to produce a nuclear weapon from more than a year to a few weeks. But that danger lies years in the future, and in the meantime, international inspectors have repeatedly confirmed that Tehran is abiding by the accord. The most sensible U.S. strategy would be to concentrate on curbing other problematic Iranian behavior — such as its intervention in Syria — while developing a longer-term plan with allies to address the sunset provisions.
Instead, Mr. Trump demanded on Friday that Congress adopt legislation and European governments accept a “new supplemental agreement” that would impose new multilateral sanctions on Iran if it “develops or tests long-range missiles, thwarts inspections, or makes progress toward a nuclear weapon.” In essence, Mr. Trump is seeking to unilaterally rewrite the 2015 accord, without bothering to negotiate with Iran. The bullying language he directed at allies such as Britain, France and Germany — claiming that those who refused to accept his terms “will be siding with the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambitions” — will only encourage their clearly stated resistance to reopening the accord.
Read full article by the Editorial Board of The Washington Post, January 17, 2018.