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Fecteau: Trump’s Nuclear Gamble

Thursday, May 10, 2018


After President Donald Trump called it “deficient at its core,” the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. This international accord was meant to reward Iran for abiding by the international prohibitions against its weaponized nuclear development. The revoking of this nuclear deal could have serious ramifications or serious benefits for the United States.

In the deal’s void, there are grave concerns. Iran could restart its nuclear program, something that is a source of national pride for the country. Iran, however, has come out saying it will still abide by the terms of the deal even if the United States pulls out (that could change over time). Iran could embrace and exploit its state-sponsored support of terrorism and links to international pariahs like Russia and Syria. It should be no surprise that terrorist attacks have declined internationally the last couple years because Iran is one of the countries that are responsible for a number of those attacks.

Unless the deal is reconsidered, the United States and its allies will drift further apart. In fact, the European Union could use its own legislative actions (blocking statues) meant to maneuver around U.S. sanctions. This would make any U.S. sanctions on Iran much less potent (there will still be some significant bite).

Some optimism exists for the future of the deal. During his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Trump and Macron did seem open to the possibility of improving the Iran deal to alleviate Mr. Trump’s concerns. Mr. Trump and his administration should consider any improvements to the deal because it is our national security at stake.

I was skeptical about Mr. Trump’s approach to North Korea (another country with nuclear ambitions), and – perhaps – I was wrong. Both Koreas look like they are going to finally make peace after decades. To boot, North Korea will give up its nuclear ambitions (I would like that verified by UN inspectors), and recently it released three U.S. hostages. This is something Mr. Trump should be given a great deal of credit.

Mr. Trump is gambling with the future of the Greater Middle East, and nuclear war. While he had seen some success with North Korea, the Iran nuclear deal is an already a resounding success. Mr. Trump and his administration ought to reconsider pulling out of the Iran deal. It is not the perfect deal, but it is the best deal the international community could come up with in the face of nothing. The United States should stay a party to the Iran nuclear accord, but improve it – that is the surest way to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) is a Master of Public Administration candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and an Iraq War veteran. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewFecteau


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