Trump backpedals on Iran nuclear deal

Mariah Partin, Staff Writer

In the summer of 2015, President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more commonly known as the “Iran nuclear deal,” after two years of negotiations. The basics of this deal left Iran with a nuclear program, but impeded and limited production. Iran confirmed they would not develop any nuclear weapons as long as they were able to peacefully continue their atomic program.  

According to BBC news, Iran had a large stockpile of rich uranium and nearly 20,000 centrifuges, enough to create eight to ten atomic bombs. This deal also lifted UN sanctions on Iran, which were in place to halt the country’s uranium enrichment. The sanctions had a negative impact on Iran’s economy. At the time, the Iran nuclear deal stated that Iran could not build any more water-heavy nuclear reactors, or accumulate any excess heavy water for 15 years.

In early October, President Trump announced his refusal to sign and recertify the Iran deal, which the president is required to do every 90 days if Iran is in accordance with the stipulations of the deal.  So far, Iran does not seem to have broken any part of the deal. Although last month, according to BBC, Iranian officials said they had tested a new medium range missile with a 1,200 mile range, though the missile tests had not been internationally verified.

President Trump wants to end the Iran Nuclear deal’s “sunset clauses” which would lift the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program after 2025. He also called for restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is not covered by the deal. Other U.N. countries that had signed this deal warned that changes to the agreement could result in a return to a nuclear standoff. Despite sharing concerns of the ballistic missile program, the U.K., Germany and France all said they remained committed to the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contrastingly congratulated President Trump for confronting “Iran’s terrorist regime.” During an interview with NBC, the US ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said that the administration’s hope is to stay in the deal if congress can keep it together. She commented that it was their goal to improve the situation, so the American people would feel better. Haley also stated the United States needs to hold Iran accountable in adhering to the agreement.  

In a CNN interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he echoed the statement that the U.S. is planning to stay in the agreement.  However, he commented that the issue with the deal is that it does not achieve the objective of ending nuclear weapon production in Iran, it simply postpones it. He also stated the U.S. will work with its European allies to address their shared concerns.

Tillerson addressed President Trump’s comment about Iran violating terms. Iran had indeed committed technical violations, but they were remedied.  The agreement allowed for such remedies. Haley also used the example of North Korea as something we do not want to get into with Iran. Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor, said on Fox News Sunday that the administration would stay in the deal, while demanding modifications from congress and potentially forging an additional agreement with Iran.

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