Iran in the crosshairs

Published: November 14, 2017

Yet another controversy erupted at the United Nations this week when the Trump administration warned Iran that it should be prepared for renegotiating a nuclear agreement signed with world powers in 2015 because the deal was probably not in US interests. The warning, as can be expected, did not go down well in Tehran, provoking a storm of protests. And Iran’s president, Hassan Rowhani, ruled out the possibility of renegotiating the deal.

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The accord — described by President Donald Trump in his first address at the UN as an embarrassment — promised an end to sanctions against Iran if the country agreed to limit its disputed nuclear programme. The fact that the agreement was reached with the approval of Russia, Britain, France and Germany does not seem to matter to Trump.

The prospect of Washington unilaterally scrapping the deal has worried some of the US allies that helped negotiate the accord. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini opposes the US demand to reopen the agreement on the grounds that it is already delivering on its objectives.

It is hard to understand why Trump wants to do so when UN inspectors have already verified Iranian compliance with the terms. Violations have not been recorded at all. Still all what would depend on whether Trump holds back on Iranian certification next month. Consequently, the US Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.

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Trump also made other sweeping charges against Iran, calling it “a corrupt dictatorship” and accusing it of supporting terrorism and destabilising the Middle East. Senior members of his administration have more or less echoed these remarks.

EU officials rightly believe it would be unwise to revisit the agreement at a time when the world is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea. The world cannot afford another crisis.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2017.

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