The election of Donald Trump raises many uncertainties about the future direction of US foreign policy, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation. A major aspect of this is the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), concluded between Iran, the five permanent members of the Security Council, Germany and the European Union on 14 July 2015.
While the JCPOA by itself does not resolve the Iranian nuclear problem in the longer term, it is an important achievement. It curbs Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons for 15 years, thus defusing the immediate crisis and providing a breathing space in which to seek a lasting solution. As I argue in a paper just published by Harvard University, and also in my Lowy Interpreter post of April last year, it is absolutely essential for all parties to start working now on finding a long term solution, not only to the Iranian problem, but for controlling proliferation-sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle around the world, avoiding similar crises in the future.
Republicans have criticised the deal from the outset. Trump has said variously that he would ‘dismantle’ the deal, that he would renegotiate it, and that he would ‘police (the deal) so tough they don’t have a chance.’ As Trump himself has conceded, it would be hard to change or walk away from on a deal that has been approved in a Security Council resolution. The deal has eight parties – if the US acts unilaterally this will alienate its negotiating partners, and the US will carry the blame for the collapse of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. We must hope that Trump's future advisers will see the sense of preserving the deal and building on it through engagement with Iran, rather than precipitating a new crisis.
Photo: Getty images/Washington Post