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US Congress Inaction Indicates JCPOA’s Solidity

Whatever the US president does to undermine the nuclear deal would be either against international law or cause the rest of the world to stand against him
Ali KhorramAli Khorram
Trump's actions against the Iran nuclear deal will only shrink US options for dealing with North Korea

An analyst said the inability of the US Congress to amend the historic 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as required by US President Donald Trump, shows that the legislative body knows very well that it cannot undermine such a well-negotiated international accord.

“Any organization or person that attempts to stand against such a deal would actually call itself into question,” wrote Ali Khorram, a former Iranian diplomat, in a recent article for IRNA.

Last Tuesday was the deadline for congress to reimpose old nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that would likely kill the deal.

But US lawmakers neither did that, nor made any progress on a bill to impose stricter conditions on Tehran. In other words, the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, remains intact, despite Trump’s fiery criticism of it.

The fight over the nuclear deal’s future began in October, when Trump declared that Iran was not complying with the terms of the nuclear pact and that the deal itself was not in America’s national security interest. But instead of torpedoing the deal himself, he decided to put the fate of the bill in congress’ hands. Khorram said the congress knows very well that it is not easy to violate such a deal, adding that they know that except Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the rest of the world is in favor of JCPOA, including many who support it inside the US.

  Little Room for Maneuver

Pointing to the vituperative speeches of Trump against the deal, Khorram said his decision to punt the deal to the congress reveals how little maneuvering room he had in the first place.

“Whatever he does [to undermine the deal] would be either against international law or cause the rest of the world to stand against him.”

European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has constantly supported the deal, firmly rejecting the idea of trying to renegotiate the agreement in the hope of getting new concessions from Iran.

After a closed-door briefing to lawmakers on Capitol Hill last month, Mogherini told reporters flat out that “renegotiation [of the nuclear deal] is not an option.”

She also stressed that European nations “wish to see the United States continue in the implementation of the deal.”

Khorram said Trump’s pullout from the deal would also damage US credibility in international affairs.

“Donald Trump’s undermining of the Iran nuclear deal only shrinks US options for dealing with North Korea,” said Andray Abrahamian, a visiting fellow with the Jeju Peace Research Institute, a South Korea-based think tank.

“The US president’s decertification of Tehran’s compliance will be well noted in Pyongyang, giving North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a credible excuse for refusing to negotiate with Washington,” Abrahamian wrote in a recent commentary published by Reuters.

Khorram said, “Trump has so entangled himself in JCPOA that it cannot get out of it; the more he tries to undermine it, the more he finds himself stuck with it.”

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