Former US Officials Advise Australia Against Following Trump on Iran

Former US Officials Advise Australia Against Following Trump on Iran
Former US Officials Advise Australia Against Following Trump on Iran

Former US president, Barack Obama’s chief negotiator on the Iran nuclear deal, Wendy Sherman, has questioned whether the review by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of its support for the agreement could offer any better alternative to the hard-earned diplomatic achievement.
Another key former US official, Richard Nephew, has gone even further, warning a withdrawal of support by Australia could strengthen the hand of opponents of the deal in Iran who are seeking to pressure the government of President Hassan Rouhani to exit the accord.
Nephew added that he would “hate to see Australia make the same error” as US President Donald Trump by ditching the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Sherman, the US diplomat who led six rounds of talks with Iran over four years, urged Australia to assess its own security interests, talk to allies and partners and “really look at the alternatives and see whether there’s a concerted strategy that would work better”, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.  
“Right now I see the absence of a strategy, not so much a strategy that will get to some better place,” she told Fairfax Media.
As international criticism of the Australian government’s mooted shift on Middle East policy continued to reverberate, Sherman maintained the agreement was meeting its central goal of ensuring that Tehran’s nuclear program will remain peaceful.
Morrison has recently announced he would review Australia’s support for the deal.

No Substitute   

Sherman said any new government was entitled to review policies but doubted whether western powers would find anything better than the nuclear deal international negotiators spent years painstakingly crafting.
She said the Trump administration had abandoned JCPOA without having a better plan with which to replace it, a view shared by Trump’s own Defense Secretary James Mattis.
Nephew, who was the lead American sanctions expert on the negotiating team, said the Trump administration had made it hard for other countries to support the US position because the president had pulled out of a deal that Iran was complying with.
“I would hate to see Australia make the same error,” he said.
Now at the Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, Nephew said any reimposition of sanctions by Australia would have little effect on Iran’s economy.
“But to the extent this contributes to Iran's sense that things are going against it, then this move might give some in Iran the argument—and many in Iran the inclination—to back out of their commitments since the world’s aligned against it. That would not be terribly helpful,” he said.
It remains unclear how the Morrison government’s review will work and whether a policy change would mean a resumption of Australian economic sanctions.
Sherman, who is now a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group consultancy, said there is no indication that reimposing sanctions would drag Iran back to the negotiating table.

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