A courageous choice

The “decertification” of the 2015 treaty between Iran and the P5+1 is a bold and strategic move, with long-term consequences and marks a significant breakthrough, even if Trump has changed his tune from his past position of killing the deal entirely to now proposing to change it. However, his tone is very decisive: in passing his decision to Congress, he has nonetheless promised that if it doesn’t decide to review it, he himself is willing to scrap the deal.

In short, Trump seeks an approach that won’t greatly upset those throughout the world who embrace the deal. Why? Well, because it could not only stop the flow of lucrative business deals with Iran, but also impel Tehran to quickly acquire nuclear weapons. That said, the US President has warned the international community and his own Congress of the following: if you don’t decide to intervene, I will personally pull the US out of the iranian nuclear deal.

He doesn’t seem fazed by Iran’s pre-emptive reaction: “If Trump insists, we ourselves will back out of the deal”, or that of the European Union, which as usual has called for prudence. The agreement, in fact, contains unthinkable mistakes, motivated by Obama’s fear of seeing its collapse: the inability of the atomic agency — the IAEA — to verify the state of uranium enrichment because it’s not permitted to visit military facilities; the prediction that the deal will run out in under thirteen years and restore Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear bomb; and not including ballistic missiles intended for the transport of atomic warheads within the deal.

The agreement, therefore, ultimately appears to be able to embolden rather than deter the Ayatollahs and Revolutionary Guard’s ambitions (this explains why Trump is urging renewed sanctions). The latter are a violent, anti-democratic and persecutory lot who desire not only to challenge the western world, but also essentially want to crush it according to the most extreme dictates of Islamic law. Obama feared to ask Tehran to renounce anything (is it possible to believe that it takes 15 years to stop building an atomic bomb?) and responded to fanaticism with pacifism. This has made it impossible for us to see what Trump denounced yesterday: Iran is a terrorist country and intends to remain so, as well as not only acts against American interests but also those of the entire world.

In Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, Iran incites wars like the one that allows it now, from Syria, to threaten Israel. The threat of death to Israel and to America is the daily battle hymn heard in Tehran’s squares. All the Sunni countries, those most peaceful and also friendly towards the west, feel betrayed and are running away from their relationship with the United States in order to build new ones with Russia and China. Trump, therefore, wants to change the parameters of the iranian nuclear deal to curtail current and potential allies from doing so. In addition, he wants to curb the economic damage his own country has incurred from Iran’s state-sponsorship of terrorism.

Trump isn’t totally scrapping the deal, but he’s putting it in the hands of Congress because it is the US electoral assembly that must determine whether or not renewed sanctions should define the US’s relationship with the ayatollahs. It’s a U-turn, a return to America onto the world stage, a moral position against a country that persecutes dissidents, hangs homosexuals and stones women.

Finally, the US’s exit from UNESCO is also a declaration of war on the unilateralism of international institutions. The criticisms of the organization are very serious, and so too may be the consequences. Iran might quickly return to building an atomic bomb; Europe, at least in these weeks, will be the deal’s official defender, and also Putin is against the US. Yet this is the price of ongoing changes. The iranian nuclear deal is very dangerous and half the world knows it: the other half denies this, just like it did vis-à-vis North Korea.

Translation by Amy Rosenthal

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 14, 2017)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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