US Expert Proposes How to Approach Iran Missile Work

US Expert Proposes How to Approach Iran Missile WorkUS Expert Proposes How to Approach Iran Missile Work

A former US nuclear negotiator outlined his views on how Washington can move to contain Iran's missile program without tripping up the 2015 nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump has criticized what he sees as the overly narrow scope of the constraints the 2015 nuclear deal placed on Tehran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, demanding that it be revised to address Tehran's missile and regional activities, which are not related to the nuclear pact.

The historic pact between Iran and major powers, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was concluded in 2015 and went into force in January 2016, a year before Trump took office.

"[The deal's] critics are right that Iran's ballistic missiles are a threat to the United States, its allies and its interests in the Middle East. They are wrong, however, that the continuation of the ballistic-missile program represents a failure of the JCPOA," Richard Nephew, who was the lead sanctions expert on the US team during the pre-deal negotiations, asserted in an op-ed published in Foreign Affairs on Friday.

Trump announced last month that he had refused to certify the national security value of the deal, giving the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reinstate sanctions, asking it to work with Washington's European allies to make amendments to the deal and add missile and other non-nuclear restrictions.

"Abandoning or undermining the JCPOA will, if anything, make it more difficult for Washington and its allies to address the [perceived] threat," Nephew warned. He said that during the 18 months of negotiations leading to the nuclear agreement, Iran resisted the US pressure to put up its missile program for negotiations and successfully campaigned to limit the talks to the nuclear issue due to a lack of international support for the US position.

  Two-Fold Strategy

The ex-negotiator advised Trump's administration to change tack and avoid direct confrontation with the Islamic Republic.

"Instead of confronting Iran directly, the United States should pursue a different strategy—one predicated on sticking to the JCPOA and engaging with Iran and other regional players on the broader set of security challenges in the Middle East," he said.

Nephew noted that in order to push Iran toward the table of negotiations on its ballistic missiles, Trump should pursue a "twofold" strategy.  

"First, Washington should pursue measures, such as targeted economic sanctions, to slow and stymie the advance of Iran's missile program; and second, it should seek to negotiate a deal with Iran that would facilitate arms control," he said. 

"The United States must convince Iran that its security would be enhanced through regional arms control. If it is true that its missile program is intended for deterrence, then Iran may be open to an arrangement that would restrain a burgeoning arms race in the Middle East."


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