WASHINGTON– Renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal following President Donald Trump’s threat that the U.S. would decertify the deal didn’t get any support from a former Obama administration official Wednesday, while a Middle East expert said the deal hurts overall U.S. sanctions policy.
President Donald Trump has continuously criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international agreement that aims to stop Iran’ from developing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting sanctions against the country.
Middle East expert Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, agreed with the president that the deal benefits Iran and cripples the United States sanctions policy. He said that Iran entered the deal to “negate the possibility of re-imposition of rigorous sanctions on Iran” in the future.
Takeyh argued that the JCPOA has significant flaws and renegotiating the deal would provide the administration an opportunity to address the “deficiencies.”
However Takeyh disagreed with the idea of including sanctions that address “issues of Iranian regional behaviors” in future negotiations, saying they should be dealt with separately. He was referring to Iran’s apparent financial support for Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group.
However, Philip Gordon, former White House coordinator for the Middle East under President Barack Obama, said the deal that Obama approved “remains in the U.S. interest.” Renegotiating the deal has “almost zero chance of success,” he said.
There are concerns that pulling out of the deal would not only isolate the U.S. from its allies, but could hurt the credibility of the U.S.
“It is hard to envision another government like North Korea agreeing to a nuclear deal with the United States,” Peter Harrell, another Obama administration official who is now an adjunct senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for a New American Security, said in a telephone interview.
Foreign governments will question U.S. intentions of implementing deals and wonder “if the U.S. would simply walk away from its commitment,”Harrell said.
Harrell stated that a negotiation would be more productive and successful if it’s done towards the end of an agreement.
Every 90 days, the president is expected to report Iran’s compliance with the agreement and prove that staying in the deal is in the national security interest of the United States.
Trump is expected to give that report to Congress by Sunday. If the president decertifies the deal, he and Congress have the power to re-impose sanctions on Iran.