We asked this question of the Cato Institute’s foreign policy team.
Here are the answers we received.
First from Cato’s vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, Chris Preble:
Pulling out of the deal is a big mistake. The deal itself places meaningful and verifiable restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, virtually ensuring that Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon so long as the deal remains in place. If the US pulls out, it is highly unlikely that other states will follow suit. They will continue to trade with Iran, but Iran could reasonably argue that they were no longer bound by the JCPOA. As for the argument that US pressure on others will compel them to break off trade, such secondary sanctions have rarely worked, and have often prompted a backlash. Today, the US has even less leverage than it did a generation ago, so it would be a particularly meaningless and even counterproductive gesture.
And from John Glaser, Cato’s Director of Foreign Policy Studies:
I recommend having a look at this article in the New York Times that reported on a statement signed by more than 100 experts, including many prominent retired military and intelligence officials, warning against pulling out of the deal. The full statement and list of signatories can be found here.
Emma and I published a lengthy study on the limited and undesirable options at America’s disposal if we terminate the Iran nuclear deal. Emma summarizes the main points here and we discuss them in an op-ed together here. This piece in Foreign Policy by Colin Kahl, who helped work on the JCPOA, is very comprehensive and addresses why the president is wrong to think he can wrench additional concessions out of Iran by abrogating the deal.
Thanks to both Chris and John for providing their knowledge in response to this question.