It took President Donald Trump 55 minutes of a one-hour meeting last week to argue with aides that he didn’t want to re-certify America’s nuclear deal with Iran—an Obama-era deal he roundly condemned on the campaign trail—only to capitulate in the last five, The New York Times is reporting. Problem for Trump is that the nuclear deal is actually working.
For those of you who do not understand what the Iran Deal is, I’ll explain. In short, the deal basically keeps Tehran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. Or, perhaps more accurately, delays the process. Nothing else. It doesn’t deal with Tehran’s alleged support of terrorism (which Trump, in part, reportedly wants to punish them for), nor does it address any other regional issues—of which there are admittedly many. Let’s not pretend that Iran is any sort of good guy here, that it’s not rife with anti-Semitic rhetoric, a sponsor or terrorism or a disruptive presence in Iraq.
But no matter how many times the International Atomic Energy Agency says Tehran is not breaking the rules (on the most part), Trump insists on believing the contrary. Without presenting any facts, Trump has long lamented that the deal, brokered by the former Obama administration, was the “worst deal ever.” During his run for the White House, he vowed to end it.
Yet on Monday, as a legal deadline to do so loomed, Trump reluctantly agreed to re-up the agreement.
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The deal allows for Iran to produce small amounts of uranium unsuitable for making a bomb, a cap that lasts 15 years. Now, if Tehran honors the deal, it likely will not have enough centrifuges and other materials to make enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in less than a year for at least 10 years. The thinking behind this is clearly to delay Tehran in hopes that diplomacy will steer them from their nuclear ambitions. Again, it’s a gamble, but one the entire international community is hedging its faith on.
The IAEA has consistently found that Tehran is playing by the rules, but Trump insists on arguing that it is not. He wants to ratchet up sanctions against Iran for supporting terrorism, even though the agreement doesn’t deal with anything other than non-proliferation compliance.
Pursuing aggression against Iran because of issues outside of the stipulations of the deal is pure bullshit. Don’t try and make sense of any of it.
For the foreseeable future, it is doubtful Washington will have warm relations with Iran. That’s not the aim at this point. The goal is to prevent them from building nukes. And that plan is actually working. But this isn’t about that. Trump simply wants to report to his base that he is “tough on Iran,” even though they’re submitting to demands of the deal. Tehran could allow the entire GOP Congress to set up shop in its nuclear facilities and Trump would still find a reason to claim Iran isn’t being transparent.
This has a lot less to do with the policy reality on the ground and a lot more to do with Trump needing to appear to deliver on a campaign talking point.