Another sad day in international diplomacy and global security dawned when President Donald Trump pulled the United States (U.S.) out of a deal aimed at stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in return for allowing the Persian nation to trade with other countries.
The world is understandably worried about the fate of the deal because of the dangers its death could engender.The nuclear deal is an agreement inked in 2015 between Iran and six world powers – the U.S., United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany. So, since it is not a bilateral deal, there is still optimism that it can be kept alive.
The six countries and many others (state and non-state actors) were worried that the largely Shiite Islamic nation was on the way to making nuclear weapons although Iran denied this, saying it was just an energy programme meant only for peaceful purposes.
With sanctions imposed on it before the deal, despite having some of the world’s biggest oil reserves, Iran lost about £118 billion, between 2012 and 2016, as a result of not being able to sell it.To trade globally again, Iran therefore had to massively cut down on its nuclear energy programme including shutting some facilities or reducing their capacity as well as allowing international inspectors to verify that it was not violating the terms.
The positives of a deal in place cannot be over-emphasised. It offers Iran’s economy a breather to steer the country away from an extremist international posture advocated by radical orthodox clerics, politicians and militarists, thus giving Washington and its allies the moral strength to check Iran’s alleged backing for Islamist and terrorist groups which seek Israel’s annihilation. It also ultimately helps the Mideast peace process.
These were some of the considerations that led the Barack Obama administration to reach the agreement with Iran and others. However, the progress in this direction is being eroded and threatened by Trump’s repudiation of the accord. Certainly, humanity does not welcome a total repeal of the deal as being done by Trump.
Apart from the dangers posed by nuclear weapons, the cost of the arms race has been prohibitive and devastating. For example, North Korea is today largely impoverished because of its nuclear scheme. Even Iran’s economy is struggling from the 10-year sanctions. In fact, non-nuclear nations facing sanctions for one reason or another are not without some bruises and scars.
It is, therefore, heart-warming that the other five powers are keeping faith with the deal and hoping to persuade Mr. Trump to rejoin even as Iran’s own reaction to Trump’s move remains cause for concern. Although the country said it would respect the deal, President Hassan Rouhani, warned that Iran would commence uranium enrichment if Trump continues his hard-line position.
After warning that if a deal could not be reached Iran would restart its nuclear programme “on an industrial level without any limitations,” Rouhani, however, added: “If we achieve the deal’s goals in cooperation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place.” But it appears not much faith is invested in the agreement by supreme spiritual ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who told Iran’s government: “We hear that you want to continue the nuclear deal with the three European countries. I don’t have confidence in these three countries.”
Indeed, he hailed Iran’s “scientific progress” which he said has surpassed that of some major countries.A compromise is therefore needed for world’s safety. A return to the negotiation table for a reworked deal that addresses some of Trump’s concerns is imperative.Trump dismissed the extant deal as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” and made an election campaign promise to dump it.
He is also angry over what it did not cover, including Iran’s involvement in the Syria and Yemen wars. According to him, the lifting of sanctions by the Obama government meant that Iran had $100 billion (£74 billion) “slush fund for weapons, terror and oppression” across the Middle East.
In some quarters, it is also believed that Trump is not pulling out of the deal in good faith but wants to just erase President Barack Obama’s achievements and legacies. He has withdrawn the U.S. from a trade deal with Asia and attempted to repeal Obama’s healthcare act. He has also threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate change deal.
Trump is equally infuriated that some aspects of the deal expire in 10, 15 or 25 years, which theoretically, means that Iran can restart its nuclear programme at the expiration of the agreement.However, it is cheery news that the UK, France and Germany have quickly reiterated their support for the agreement in spite of Trump’s obligations.
In a joint statement, they said: “We urge all sides to remain committed to its implementation and to act in a spirit of responsibility.” Although the American President claims to be open to fresh talks, he seems not to have an alternative policy towards Iran as he has said he would re-impose sanctions.
The world needs a nuclear-free Middle East. Verily, a nuclear-free world is mankind’s irreducible demand. This desire by humanity is imperiled if Iran returns to its nuclear programme as its regional rivals such as Saudi Arabia could do the same. Israel, feeling endangered, could strike Iran’s nuclear facilities and trigger retaliatory actions by Tehran, thus throwing the Middle East into turmoil, even extinction. The fallout of this will be felt worldwide.
Europe (including Russia) and China should intensify pressure on Mr. Trump to return to the negotiations’ table with a free mind. Iran should show sincerity and moderation. The world is racing against time on this issue.