At The American Conservative, John Allen Gay writes that there were other options available to President Trump within the confines of the JCPOA (a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal). Despite those alternatives, at the urging of John Bolton and the neocon crowd, President Trump has exited the JCPOA and consequently made a war with Iran more likely. Gay writes (abridged):
“We’re out of the deal. We’re out of the deal.” That was national security advisor John Bolton’s summary of President Donald Trump’s decision over the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Trump’s decision makes a direct U.S.-Iranian war more likely, too. Iran now has less to lose in its relations with America, and less incentive to avoid negative and inflammatory actions that could contribute to crises. If the deal continues to fall apart and Iran resumes significant uranium enrichment, the pressure will grow on the United States and Israel to attempt to destroy the nuclear program.
Trump’s withdrawal from the deal wasn’t his only option for taking action against it. He could have stayed in without sitting on his hands. A deep report by Washington Institute Iran policy wizard Patrick Clawson highlighted the many points of presidential discretion in the array of sanctions laws that apply to Iran. Trump could have refrained from waiving sanctions—all he had to do this week—and perhaps applied a few new measures. He could have worked methodically, increasing pressure step by step, creating uncertainty, steadily building pressure on Iran while preserving the pacific incentives ambiguity created. This would have violated the deal, but America would have retained access to several key levers against Iran. It would still have been a member of the deal’s Joint Commission mechanism, which would have allowed it to pursue possible Iranian violations.
Where will things go from here? Watch Brussels.
Iran wants to do business with Europe; even with the nuclear deal, much U.S. business with Iran was illegal. Trump will either need to get Europe on board with new sanctions that hurt European businesses, or he will need to target European companies himself, creating a serious diplomatic crisis.
Iran’s main strategic goal on the nuclear issue has been achieved. America and Europe are split, and the UN sanctions are off. Now Tehran can choose whether it would like an enriched cherry on top.
Read more here.