Here are the cold, hard facts about Donald Trump’s approach to Iran
President Donald Trump has been in office for a exactly two months, but there are still no hints as to what his policy toward Iran will be. All we really have to guide us are a couple of comments that Trump made on the campaign trail, his trashing the Iran nuclear agreement as the most incompetent deal ever negotiated in the history of mankind, and his promise to put Iran “on notice.”
Needless to say, the Iranians weren’t particularly impressed with the Trump administration’s “on notice” remark. If they were, Tehran would have thought twice before continuing to test ballistic missiles or ceased irritating the U.S. Navy in the Strait of Hormuz. The slapping of additional sanctions on more than two dozen Iranian individuals and entities in January was the kind of response that congressional Republicans often decried as weak and inadequate when Barack Obama did it, yet they remain complacent when it’s Trump. As for the rest of our policy on Iran, it’s mysterious, largely because the Trump administration remains in a deep dive as to how they will approach the problem and what they’re actually going to do about the nuclear deal.
There’s nothing wrong with being cautious. The Trump administration should take its time and get its Iran policy right. And whatever approach they ultimately decide on, it should take into account these cold, hard facts:
Don’t mess with the nuclear deal, at least not yet: A bipartisan majority in the House and Senate disapproved of the Iranian nuclear deal when it was first proposed to Congress in September 2015. The JCPOA, however, has worked far better than even its harshest critics would have expected. The IAEA has repeatedly verified that Iran is upholding its side of the bargain. According to their latest verification report, “Iran has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor based on its original design,” which translated means “Iran’s plutonium facility is now useless.” Iranian scientists have IAEA inspectors looking over their shoulders at every turn, keeping Tehran honest and ensuring the international community that any suspicion is probed and – if need be – punished. The secretary-general of the IAEA stated this week that the JCPOA has given his agency the best access to Iran’s program that it’s ever had. This arrangement is working and Trump shouldn’t mess with it.