MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump Still Sticking to Iran Deal

The right move.

White HouseWhite HouseDonald Trump has taken another step to secure the future of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, reaffirming an exemption on sanctions authorized by Congress.

Trump's decision to maintain the nuclear deal is the right one. Remaining committed to the deal offers the U.S. the best opportunity to de-escalate tensions between the two countries. It also relieves us of all the responsibility of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The multilateral Iran deal also includes the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia. Walking away from the deal would mean assuming more of a unilateral "world's policeman" role for the U.S., something Trump eschewed on the campaign trail.

Yesterday's was the most significant deadline, because allowing the sanctions exemption to lapse would violate the agreement and allow Iran to walk away from the deal.

The president is required every 90 days to certify whether Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal. In previous rounds, the press described Trump as recertifying the deal "reluctantly," but recertify it he did. Next month, Trump must certify again. And despite his sometimes hostile rhetoric, it's unlikely Trump will decide against the certification.

Trump's support suggests the deal is not as critics charged. The deal is backed by two important members of his cabinet, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mattis called the deal flawed in his confirmation hearing earlier this year, but stressed the importance of the U.S. remaining committed to it and to cooperating with its allies on its success. "When America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies," Mattis said at the time.

Tillerson, too, has no misconception the deal is perfect. He has also recently advanced the argument that Iran was "in default" on the deal because it was not living up to the "expectations" set out in the deal's aspirational preamble.

Tillerson may not have a lot of diplomatic experience, but in the business world preambles are also generally non-binding. If violating the spirit of the preamble is the best Tillerson can do, it remains unlikely the U.S. would certify Iran non-compliant.

Tillerson insisted Iran was "threatening the security of those in the region as well as the United States itself." Yet back in July, it was Tillerson who reportedly convinced Trump to stick to the deal.

"There are a lot of alternative means with which we use the agreement to advance our policies and the relationship with Iran, and that's what the conversation generally is around with the president as well," Tillerson said at the time.

Trump at the time predicted Iran would not be in compliance this time around.

The Trump administration has often sent mixed signals on the simplest issues involving the deal, but the hostile rhetoric appears tailored for domestic consumption rather than actual foreign policy direction.

There is also the question of what, exactly, the U.S. could do without the Iran deal. Unlike some arrangements, this deal does rely solely on the U.S. to succeed.

If Trump chooses to re-impose sanctions on the Iran, there is no guarantee Europe will follow. Given U.S.-Europe tensions in the Trump era, and given the desire of European companies to do business with Iran, it's improbable.

Leaving the deal would only place the U.S. at a disadvantage, diplomatically and economically. Trump would be choosing to handicap U.S. businesses competing with Europeans (hardly an "America First" position) while curtailing his diplomatic influence with Iran. Resolving issues like Iran's involvement in Syria or Iraq, would become far more difficult with the U.S. outside of the Iran deal.

This week's decision was the right one, and ought to be followed next month by another recertification of Iran's compliance.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Finally, something to get his base back in line!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Typical lefty who does not know anything about Trump supporters but is full of lefty narrative.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    How is the observation that Trump supporters will be mollified by Trump's Iran decision a "lefty narrative?"

    And for your information I've never voted for a Democrat or Republican in my entire life. Each and every vote I've ever cast has been for a Libertarian and when none were available I declined to indicate a preference.

    So take your misconceptions about my political views and shove them up your Breitbart-spewing ass.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Trump's decision to maintain the nuclear deal is the right one.

    He doesn't want put on trial like Bob Menendez.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    A man, a plan, a nap, twitter.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Ret-twit, pan anal, Panama?

  • Hugh Akston||

    What a cuck

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Trump's decision to maintain the nuclear deal is the right one. Remaining committed to the deal offers the U.S. the best opportunity to de-escalate tensions between the two countries."
    Of course, its not like North Korea had any good deals with the USA and now has nuclear weapons and ICBMs.

    Dealing with authoritarian militaristic regimes cannot possibly lead to something worse. History has shown us how allowing these regimes more time to develop a stronger military is absolutely in American's best interests.

  • Hugh Akston||

    They oughta hit them with sanctions like the ones that toppled the Castro regime in Cuba, or just invade and bring a swift end to the brutality like they did in Afghanistan.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Since those are tactics that lefty Democrats typically use and have high failure rates- I would advocate a different strategy.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Like Eisenhower?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Which war did Eisenhower start? Which sanctions did Eisenhower implement on Cuba?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    This idiot doesn't understand that a ban on exports to a country is a sanction.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Just to put the nail in the coffin, and before loveconstipation starts equivocating on the definition of the word sanction:

    Definition of sanction

    1 :a formal decree; especially :an ecclesiastical decree
    2 a obsolete :a solemn agreement :oath
    b :something that makes an oath binding
    3 :the detriment, loss of reward, or coercive intervention annexed to a violation of a law as a means of enforcing the law
    4 a :a consideration, principle, or influence (as of conscience) that impels to moral action or determines moral judgment
    b :a mechanism of social control for enforcing a society's standards
    c :explicit or official approval, permission, or ratification :approbation
    5 :an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

    What Eisenhower did falls under the definition of sanctions in at least categories 1), 3) and 5).

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    I agree with you, though. I think Eisenhower and George W. Bush were two of the worst Democratic presidents in recent memory.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You are just going to double down on Eisenhower aren't you? Me too then.

    Which war did Eisenhower start? Which sanctions did Eisenhower implement on Cuba?

    Bush did invade Afghanistan, hence my comment that "Since those are tactics that lefty Democrats typically use...". "W" Bush is that one exception which is why I did not say Since those are tactics that only lefty Democrats typically use and have high failure rates- I would advocate a different strategy.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Worse than Roosevelt or LBJ? (since apparently Eisenhower is "recent memory").

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It was a trick to out the dum-dum DEATFBIRSECIA. Eisenhower (A Republican) never started a war nor implemented sanctions on Cuba. Eisenhower banned the USA from exporting to Cuba and cancelled an import of sugar from Cuba to the USA. Eisenhower never forced Cuba to do anything.

    JFK (A Democrat) actually blockaded Cuba.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    A ban on exports to a country is a sanction you idiot.

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Of course I'd expect that level of stupidity from an individual who did not know that George W Bush invaded Afghanistan.

  • ChipToBeSquare||

    I'm gonna stretch this further back and say Woodrow Wilson hands-down

  • Robert||

    I'd consult the Masturbating Bear on this one.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online