US President Donald Trump has accused Iran of violating the spirit of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and has threatened to tear it up. This is while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran has been living up to its commitments under the accord. Press TV has talked to Catherine Shakdam, director of Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, as well as Jim Walsh, senior researcher at Security Studies Program at MIT, to discuss the issue.
Shakdam believes US claims that Iran is not committed to the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are an attempt to try to regain relevance in the Middle East, adding that the problem has a lot to do with geopolitics rather than the nuclear deal per se.
“I think it has to do with the fact that Iran has gained a lot of influence and traction over the past years and that America’s influence in the region, in the Middle East, in Asia is actually waning and so they are trying to use this nuclear deal as some kind of a justification to continue to portray Iran as being a nefarious power in the region,” she stated.
The analyst also reiterated that the United States is the one who has not abided by the terms of the JCPOA, arguing that Iran’s nuclear issue has become a “political exercise” for President Trump to rally his base and push forward his agenda.
Shakdam further emphasized that honoring Iran’s nuclear deal is a matter of international law, asserting that Trump does not seem to understand what implications his threats have.
She went on to say that if Trump reneges on Iran’s nuclear deal, it will not only harm US interests but it will also isolate the country on the international scene.
“I do not think he [Trump] has a very good grasp of international law or even foreign policies and what that would mean in terms of America’s partnership for example with Europe because he is damaging his partners in Europe by calling for more sanctions and trying to renege on the nuclear deal,” she noted.
“He is trying to bully people into complying with his wishes but all he is doing is creating more tensions and making people realize that America is actually not a worthy partner when it comes to holding up to its end of the deal,” she added.
According to Shakdam, if Washington decides to walk away from the nuclear deal, it is going to only damage the United States because the EU would continue to engage with Iran and once again the US would be left out of whatever progress is being made.
Meanwhile, Jim Walsh, the other panelist on the program, expressed skepticism that US claims about Iran’s violation of the nuclear deal is part of a grand strategy to deal with changing regional balance in the Middle East, stressing that it is more a matter of Trump’s personality rather than policy.
He also opined that Trump “does not often know what his own self-interest is politically and does things impulsively.” Therefore, he said, if the president decides to “wreck” Iran’s nuclear agreement, it will isolate the United States and there will be terrible consequences.
The analyst further maintained that there are some people in the US administration who support staying in the deal –namely the secretary of state and the president’s national security adviser – but clearly there are those in Congress who are seeking to kill the deal by imposing new sanctions on Iran.
Walsh further concluded by saying that the reality of Trump’s presidency is that there is just tremendous uncertainty and maybe the best way to get through this difficult time is to try to have the nuclear agreement “on the back burner” and not turn it into a “big ugly fight.”