Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Editorial Exchange: Donald the Menace blows Iran deal up

Editorial Exchange: Donald the Menace blows Iran deal up

The 2015 agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been widely seen as critical in limiting Iran's capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

"The PM said the United Kingdom would continue to work with the USA to keep up the pressure on North Korea to denuclearise".

But the U.S. president on Tuesday pulled Washington out of the 2015 accord with Tehran, pouring scorn on the "disastrous" agreement and describing it an "embarrassment" to the United States - although European signatories and the IAEA say Iran has complied with its obligations.

There's a lot going on here so we're going to try and explain this as simply as possible. This could be either because Europe does not have the will or ability to stand up to US secondary sanctions or because of domestic pressures in Iran that call into question the value of the agreement.

"But there are lots of other issues, not least in relation to Russian Federation still, where fundamentally the positions are the same".

Officials at the Department of Treasury, the Department of Commerce and the White House did not respond to a request for comment on the difficulty in managing oil curbs on Iran. Crude has topped $78 a barrel, the highest since 2014, following Trump's sanctions announcement.

The deal is certainly far from flawless, but withdrawing from it and starting from scratch may be impossible, especially in light of Iran's vehement refusal to modify the deal, as was expressed by Foreign Minister Zarif: "We will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith".

In anticipation of Mr Trump's decision, Iran had significantly increased its exports of crude to 2.6 million bpd to customers in Asia and Europe, a tactic to increase the level from which the United States would ask Tehran to cut down.

Imposing those cuts was hard, even with more geopolitical backing.

Fifteen years after invading Iraq over weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al-Qaeda that both proved non-existent, the United States is again steering towards a possible confrontation with a Middle East power for suspected work on nuclear weapons and support for terrorism.

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"At this point, we have to replace the United States, which as an worldwide actor has lost vigour, and because of it, in the long term, influence", he said.

This time, European leaders will be less helpful.

On being asked what if Tehran restarted its nuclear efforts, Trump said, "I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program; I would advise them very strongly", "If they do, there will be very severe consequences", as quoted by Arab News. So White House and National Security Council staff began laying the groundwork for a U.S. withdrawal, even as the negotiations with the Europeans were underway. Israel is often mentioned as the only state approving Trump's move, but the demise of the deal has also delighted the Saudis. "There is no one who will realistically choose Iran over the US", said energy consultancy FGE. They conceded that some expectation could be put into place in perpetuity that Iran should never get closer than one year from building a bomb.

The Iran nuclear deal was signed between six countries in 2015 - Iran, the US, Britain, Germany, Russia, France and China for lifting economic sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limitations to the country's nuclear programme.

Emily Martz, Saranac Lake, released a statement on Twitter saying Iran is "a risky state lead by an unstable regime and must be contained".

Trump's nominee to head the bureau, Francis Fannon - a former head of corporate affairs at BHP Billiton and senior director of Murphy Oil Corp - awaits Senate confirmation.

On the other hand, unlike the situation during the Obama administration, trump is not enjoying the support of Moscow and Beijing on sanctions against Tehran. Energy bureau officials controlled that problem through close coordination with other USA agencies, embassies overseas and local law enforcement, the former State Department officials said. Iran pumps about 4 percent of the world's oil and exports about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude to Europe, according to tanker-tracking data.

Countries somewhat neutral to the deal but who still have interests in Iran, such as Australia, may play a significant mediation role in this phase.

The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals. This time there's less clarity, Hochstein said.

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