Esquenazi: Iran deal problematic but withdrawal will lead to danger

Sophia Esquenazi, Op-Ed Contributor

After repeatedly referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, as “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into,” President Donald Trump made the long-awaited decision to withdraw from the agreement and re-impose sanctions on Iran.

In 2015, Iran, the U.S., the UK, China, France, Russia, Germany and other members of the European Union made a deal that lifted economic sanctions on Iran on the condition that the country’s nuclear program was restricted. Since then, the agreement has garnered critics and supporters, many of whom made their final attempts last week to convince Trump to preserve the deal. The question that is being raised now: What will happen next? Specifically, people are wondering how this decision will impact Iran’s nuclear capabilities and what it means for U.S. relationships with Europe.

In considering the next steps of Trump’s decision, it is crucial to be reminded why the deal was problematic in the first place. Under the initial groundwork of the plan, the Middle Eastern nation was not required to dismantle any of its nuclear facilities where low-enriched uranium is used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, which made it a potential threat to international security. Additionally, the agreement’s most criticized feature, known as the “sunset provision,” permitted an expiration date in the deal’s various clauses, making the future of the country’s actions regarding nuclear proliferation ambiguous. According to the U.S. Treasury Department, Iran also stood to gain access to more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas, which could be utilized toward whatever the state desires — including the funding of terrorist groups that threaten nations, such as Israel. The original framework should have been altered or negotiated to preserve U.S. international relations, and given the fact this did not happen, exiting the agreement was necessary.

Despite Trump’s decision being essential, this choice will still have serious ramifications for the U.S. Primarily, it could accelerate Iran’s ability to create nuclear weapons. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made a statement on Tuesday warning, “I have directed the Atomic Energy Agency to prepare for the next steps, if necessary, to begin our own industrial enrichment without restriction,” if the other countries who signed the deal and Iran cannot come to a conclusion.

In withdrawing from the deal, Trump is not only reinstating sanctions on Iran’s oil, but also establishing new sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran. Doing so will have significant implications on the nation’s economy, as it heavily relies on oil exports to many of the U.S.’s allies.

There are six other nations who signed the agreement with the expectation that they would all honor it, so Trump’s decision could impact our relationships with our European allies. Withdrawing sends the message that the U.S. is not reliable when it comes to international agreements. In Trump’s speech on Tuesday, he cautioned that “any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States. ” As a result of this, other European allies who signed the deal now have to decide whether they too will withdraw to prevent regulation by the U.S., or continue to comply with the agreement.

Reactions to Trump’s decision have been varied. Israel and Saudi Arabia, two long-standing critics of the deal, have applauded Trump pulling out of the agreement because its framework paved the way for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and gain access to billions of dollars.

But British Prime Minister Theresa May said in a joint statement with the UK, Germany and France that she “regrets” the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran deal. Just this week, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson travelled to Washington to meet with Trump and persuade him to refrain from abandoning the deal, stating in a New York Times op-ed that it “has weaknesses, certainly, but I am convinced they can be remedied.”

Whether you agree with Trump’s decision or not, it is certain that the concern of Iran’s nuclear program must be addressed, as its impacts are far-reaching. The U.S. and its allies must work together to curb Iran’s nuclear capabilities to diminish the threat it poses to neighboring countries and to the rest of the world.

Sophia Esquenazi is a Weinberg freshman. She can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, 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.