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Quitting JCPOA Will Hurt US Credibility, Reliability

“While President Trump may believe walking away from the Iran deal will show North Korea how tough he is on the eve of talks, instead it will show Pyongyang that the United States cannot be trusted,” Wendy Sherman said
Wendy ShermanWendy Sherman

A US pullout from the Iran nuclear deal would send a message of US unreliability rather than toughness to North Korea, a former US undersecretary of state for political affairs said.

“And while [US] President [Donald] Trump may believe walking away from the Iran deal will show North Korea how tough he is on the eve of talks, instead it will show Pyongyang that the United States cannot be trusted as a negotiating partner,” said Wendy Sherman, who is currently a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group.

“So I simply do not understand what the Trump administration’s plan is for the day after they reject the Iran nuclear deal,” she said in an interview with Yahoo News published on Friday.

Under former president Barack Obama, Sherman led the US team in negotiations that led to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six major powers.

It went into force in January 2016 to place temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear work in return for giving it relief from international sanctions.

But the action plan has been under fire from Obama's successor Donald Trump since the Republican hawk took office a year after the nuclear agreement took effect.

He has set a May 12 ultimatum for the JCPOA's European parties to come up with a plan to meet his demands for tougher nuclear restrictions on Iran and new constraints on its missile program and regional role.

Otherwise, the Iran hawk has threatened, he would not extend the sanctions waivers, a move tantamount to withdrawing from the UN-endorsed agreement.

North Korea also faces the wrath of the US over its nuclear programs.

Commentators have warned that Trump's hostile approach to the Iran deal could deter North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un from negotiations on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear development.

***Real Question

“Assuming the Trump administration is going to walk away from the Iran deal, the real question I have for them is what do they plan to do the day after?” Sherman said.

Even if European allies try to maintain the deal along with Russia and China, she noted, it will leave the United States on the outside and alone. “And if President Trump re-imposes sanctions, and Europe cannot keep [the deal] going in some way, the Iranians will likely kick out the international inspectors and reject the deal’s extraordinary verification regime, leaving the United States and its allies with no eyes on what the Iranians are actually doing on the nuclear front.”

The European signatories have ruled out a renegotiation of the pact but are in talks with the Trump administration to find a way to meet his other conditions without violating the JCPOA terms.

In a relevant development, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Iran deal and to its implementation in a phone talk on Friday.

North Korea's recent nuclear and missile tests, including one that flew over Japan, have become a source of global concern.

Mogherini thanked the top Japanese diplomat for his side's contribution to the implementation of the Iran deal, including through technical assistance, the European Union External Action Service reported.  

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