What’s in store for the Iran nuclear deal under Donald Trump?

Among the many foreign policy questions raised by the election of Donald Trump is this: What will become of the hard-fought 2015 agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear program?

 During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump said variously that he would ‘dismantle’ the deal, that he would renegotiate it, and that he would ‘police (the deal) so tough they don’t have a chance.’ As Trump once conceded, however, it would not be easy to change or walk away from a deal that was negotiated and approved not only by Iran, but the five members of the U.N. Security Council, Germany and the European Union and approved by a Security Council resolution.

 Today, if the U.S. acts unilaterally to unravel the eight-party agreement, it will alienate its negotiating partners, and the U.S. will carry the blame for the collapse of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program. 


Instead, as I argue in a paper recently published by Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, it is absolutely essential for all parties to start working now to develop a long-term solution, not only to the Iranian nuclear problem, but for controlling proliferation-sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle around the world so that we can avoid similar crises in the future.

 The Iran agreement was an important achievement in that it defused an immediate crisis and curbed Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons for 15 years, but it is now time for the United States and its partners to work toward a longer-term solution. We must not take steps that will only set us back.

November 21, 2016

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