Iran's Not Violating the Deal

Iran is not violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Mark Fitzpatrick explains that "criticism of Iran's conduct in relation to the 2015 nuclear deal does not withstand scrutiny." Yet Trump still wants to find Iran in noncompliance, regardless of whether it is. The Washington Post reports that

Trump's insistence on scrapping the deal seems mostly born out of a desire to dismantle the work of his predecessor, who staked his foreign policy legacy on the deal with Iran. But there is precedent for this -- and not a great one: in 2001, when President George W. Bush came to power, he reexamined the diplomatic framework President Bill Clinton had built to contain North Korea's budding nuclear threat.

"Then as now, a neophyte president was determined to chart a new course in foreign policy to distinguish himself from his predecessor," wrote Amir Handjani of the Atlantic Council. "At the time, the Bush administration claimed to have evidence of a covert uranium enrichment program, which would have violated the deal. Rather than building an international coalition to force Pyongyang to strictly adhere to the terms of the Agreed Framework, the Bush administration chose to abandon diplomacy."

It didn't work. In 2006, North Korea fired its first nuclear weapon. Now the world -- and Trump -- faces an all-the-more dangerous predicament in Northeast Asia...

The ultimate question that emerges is, simply, why? What does the Trump administration gain by antagonizing the other parties to the agreement? What does it imagine Iran will do once its nuclear program gets unshackled? [Aaron David] Miller said he had a hard time seeing "what advantage accrues to the United States" by unwinding the deal.

"What I cannot comprehend is what is their thinking with respect to a Plan B" after Iran is declared to be non-compliant, Miller said. Nevertheless, he reckons that the pressures of the moment and "the laws of political gravity would suggest that this is going to unravel" under Trump's watch. And, he concluded, "I don't see how this ends happily."

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