Trump Decision to Abandon Iran Nuclear Deal Will Undermine US Security, Science Group Says

Statement by David Wright, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published May 8, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (May 8, 2018)—President Trump announced today that he is pulling the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal—the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and reinstating US economic sanctions against Iran. However, his announcement does not end the agreement itself because there are five other parties, all of which have lifted economic sanctions against Iran and may continue to do so regardless of Trump’s announcement.

Below is a statement by David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“President Trump’s reckless decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal undercuts US allies, compromises US security, and makes enduring peace in the Middle East less likely.

“That said, the future of the agreement will depend on Iranian politics. Trump’s announcement will strengthen Iranian hardliners who argued against the deal in the first place and undercut the moderates who negotiated the accord. Whether sanctions lifted by the other parties will be sufficient to keep the hardliners at bay remains to be seen.

“The Trump administration agrees Iran is complying with the deal, which provides international inspectors unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear-related sites and requires Iran to ship 97 percent of its enriched uranium stocks out of the country. When the strictest limits on Iran’s nuclear program end after 10 to 15 years, international inspectors will remain in Iran indefinitely to ensure that it is not using its nuclear power program to build weapons.

“In his statement today, Trump complained about activities that are not covered by the nuclear deal, including missile development and funding military activities in the region. However, the United States is free to impose sanctions on those activities without tearing up the nuclear deal.

“So why is Trump intent on killing the agreement? It appears to be a reflexive impulse to undo virtually everything President Obama accomplished, coupled with the view that Iran is a dangerous, illegitimate regime and the US goal should instead be to change the regime. Since Iran has said it will not reopen negotiations, that seems to be where US policy is headed. And if the United States is serious about regime change, it would require military action, which would devastate the region.

“This ill-conceived policy is destined to backfire. If anything, pulling out of the deal and talking about regime change will undermine Iranian moderates and result in a government that is less to US liking. It is also likely to complicate the upcoming US negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who is wary of becoming the next Muammar Gadhafi.”