Present (Im)perfect, Future Tense

Finally, President Donald Trump has made the move.
Except Saudi Arabia and Israel, the whole world had requested the president not to withdraw the US from the Iranian nuclear deal. But, he stuck to his decision. In the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised that he would take America out of the deal, describing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as ‘terrible’. Later in October 2017, he insisted that the Iran deal be renegotiated. In January, the president confirmed that he was recertifying the deal in its original form. And on May 8, he kept his word.
Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had worked really hard in 2015 to convince Iran to sign the long-term deal on its nuclear programme with the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany. However, President Obama’s successor simply said that the deal was a ‘disaster’ because it failed to serve the US’ interest. He also said that it was basically a ‘weak’ deal.


President Trump

The American president has raised three points: 1) The deal does not impose restrictions on Iran’s long-range ballistic missiles, 2) Iran enjoys the right to build nuclear weapons (after 2025) and 3) The agreement says nothing about Iran’s military intervention in Syria and Yemen. Moreover, President Trump doesn’t trust Iran. That’s why he ignored his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s advice and withdrew his country from the historic deal.
Now, what next?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the West Asian nation would remain committed to the multinational nuclear deal despite President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the agreement. Even, France, Germany and Britain assured Tehran that they would remain committed to the accord.


Hassan Rouhani

There is a possibility that Washington will impose fresh economic sanctions on Tehran in the coming months. In that case, Iran will (again) start building nuclear weapons in order to increase military strength. Soon after President Trump made the announcement, supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Washington made a mistake and the Americans would have to pay for it. He further said that the Iranian officials “want to continue the nuclear deal” with Britain, France and Germany, but added: “I do not trust these countries either.” Ayatollah continued: “If you could get guarantees from them in such a way that they can be trusted, no problem then you can continue. If you cannot get such a strong guarantee from them, and I see it very unlikely that you can, we could not move and continue like this anymore.”


Iranians chant anti-US slogans during a demonstration in Tehran on May 11

Political analysts are of the opinion that (now) both Iran and Israel will try to increase their influence in West Asia. It is to be noted that Israeli missiles destroyed a Syrian anti-aircraft battery during a wave of airstrikes a couple of days after President Trump’s announcement. The Israelis claimed that they targeted Iran’s arsenal in Syria.
Experts believe that political instability in West Asia will cause an increase in the price of oil. According to some critics, President Trump could have imposed some stringent conditions on Iran. However, he didn’t do that, making it difficult for experts to explain such a decision from a diplomatic point of view.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Some argue that it was not a ‘hasty’ decision, but a calculated one. According to those experts, President Trump is trying hard to put Iran under pressure so that Tehran accepts a tougher deal (in near future). The president can claim that his ‘diplomatic’ moves have prompted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to accept the proposal for ‘peace talks’ and to release the American prisoners from North Korean jails. Perhaps, the US president plans to implement the ‘same policy’ on Iran. And it may also work. The top political leadership in Tehran may agree to sign a ‘tough’ deal in order to avoid further sanctions.


There is another possibility as well. Iran is not North Korea. As a result, President Trump’s decision may increase the influence of hardliners in Iranian politics and ‘liberal’ President Rouhani may lose the control. Then, it will be difficult to predict who will win the battle – ‘hardliner’ Trump and his ‘friend’ Benjamin Netanyahu or ‘hardliner’ Iran?
The situation is constantly deteriorating in West Asia and the global community will have to join hands in order to save the deal.

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