The United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. Or, at least, so Donald Trump led French president Emmanuel Macron to believe when the two men spoke Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times. Macron, like all of the other major EU heads of state, had personally lobbied Trump to keep the U.S. in the deal.
Trump reportedly intends to reinstate all sanctions that the United States had lifted in exchange for Iran dismantling its nuclear weapons program, and then to impose additional economic penalties, to boot. This will create significant diplomatic difficulties, as all the other signatories to the 2015 accord remain committed to it — which means that enforcing economic sanctions on entities that do business with Iran will put the United States into direct conflict with its European allies, along with China and Russia. Withdrawing from the agreement will also jeopardize the efficacy of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s system for monitoring Iranian compliance.
To this point, the agreement has successfully halted Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, according to international inspectors. It has not, however, deterred Iran from expanding its influence in the Middle East (a task made quite easy by America’s decision to overthrow the region’s most powerful check on Tehran’s power in 2003). And that fact — combined with the agreement’s association with Barack Obama, Trump’s campaign promise to rip it up, and the hawkish bent of the president’s newest advisers — has (apparently) led the United States to ignore the myriad downsides of sabotaging a functional deprofileration agreement in defiance of its core allies.
Trump will officially announce his decision at 2 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Once that’s done, the White House will turn its diplomatic attentions to trying to negotiate a denuclearization deal with North Korea — a task that will require the administration to convince Pyongyang that America can be trusted to honor its agreements with regimes it doesn’t like.