Sheffey: In defense of the Iran deal

Ariel Sheffey, Op-Ed Contributor

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump spoke from the White House about his decision to decertify the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, more colloquially known as the Iran Deal. Calling it one of the “worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” Trump criticized the deal for boosting Iran’s economy and failing to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missiles and terrorism. In response, Trump announced a seemingly unrealistic intention to “deny the regime all paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Trump’s plan is ineffective at best. First, it fails to remember that the Iran Deal is just that: a deal. The odds of Iran agreeing to changes like those Trump proposed are low, if not nonexistent. If Iran withdraws from the deal because negotiations fail, then it would have no incentive to pay any mind to the pleas of the U.S. and its European allies. Though Iranian authorities have yet to prevent officials from investigating any facility to which they have requested access, without the deal, its nuclear program would be free to develop unmonitored.

Furthermore, Trump forgets that sanctions have proven to be an unsuccessful method of curbing Iran’s nuclear development. Despite his unbased claim that the JCPOA was implemented “just before what would have been the total collapse of the Iranian regime,” the ineffectiveness of sanctions compelled the need for the Iran Deal in the first place. In fact, the Iranian dictatorship was not struggling, and neither were its programs for nuclear advancement. Rather, innocent civilians bore the brunt of the sanctions, as their lives, safety and security have never taken priority over their country’s militaristic goals.

In his speech, Trump said should Congress fail to reconstruct and renegotiate the deal in accordance with his demands, he plans to scrap it entirely. Unfortunately for Trump, he doesn’t quite have the power to do that. The JCPOA is an agreement among several international bodies, including the European Union, and Trump does not have the authority to end it alone. The best he can do is weaken the deal by reinstating sanctions unilaterally. Nonetheless, Trump’s proclamation is not a sentiment unfamiliar to his presidency. It is reminiscent of, for instance, his determination to repeal Obamacare regardless of whether an effective replacement was on the table.

Just like every international or domestic program to ever be implemented, the Iran Deal has many flaws. Of course, it would be nice if it also accounted for terrorism and Iran’s expansion of ballistic missiles. But there is no plausible scenario in which that version of the deal could have been successfully negotiated. We must operate within the realities of the world we live in, and Trump’s uninformed, wishful thinking has no place in nuclear negotiations.

Trump’s analysis of the Iran Deal is misguided and inaccurate at best, and despite his recent tweets, it has been thoroughly criticized. In a joint statement from French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May, our European allies urged Trump to refrain from undermining the JCPOA by reimposing sanctions and, in turn, threatening the security of the international community. Many U.S. senators, representatives and government officials spoke out against Trump’s announcement as well. In fact, U.S. national security aides are joined even by Israeli national security aides in supporting the Iran Deal, despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to tear it down.

Simply put, the deal is better than no deal — and it’s certainly better than the unsubstantiated, unrealistic and senseless proposal Trump put forth. If anything, all Trump will achieve by destabilizing the Iran Deal is yet another dismantlement of legislation that the previous administration endorsed, a goal Trump seems to place high above any genuine aspirations to make America great again.

Ariel Sheffey is a Weinberg sophomore. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.