In 2015, Barack Obama, as one of his last major actions as US president, signed a landmark denuclearization agreement with the traditionally unfriendly Iran. Earlier this May, in one of his worst moves yet, President Trump withdrew from the deal.
The nature of the deal was pretty simple, Iran agreed to limit their nuclear production, and open their facility to regular checks. No new facility could be built, and no nuclear weaponry was permitted. In return, the EU, US, and UN all agreed to remove previous economic and nuclear sanctions on Iran. This was essentially a win for everyone involved. The US was able to ease fears of a slightly hostile nation, while Iran could cure its economic issues and clear up the general mess of sanctions the West had crippled it with.
Withdrawing from an agreement with a potentially threatening country antagonises them, further degrading the relationship. Now Iran is reeling after a direct jab from Trump, and therefore liable to bond with other less-than-friendly countries—Russia, for example. So Trump, in one fell swoop, has ended a productive deal, antagonised a difficult country in a troublesome area, and potentially granted an eighty year old enemy, a new ally. This was a terrible decision.
So why did Trump do this?
First and foremost, it was something Obama implemented. The optimist in me desperately hopes that this was not something on the mind of the leader of the free world, but the cynic in me is still not convinced that Trump didn’t run for president just in spite of Obama after the former president mocked him at the Correspondents’ Dinner. Furthermore, on a more reasonable note, repealing the actions of a predecessor of the other party is a sure-fire way to increase support for yourself in your own party, so there is some real benefit to Trump’s position. Finally, if Trump and his supporters have decided that Iran is not worth the effort, keeping them weak is a good idea. If this is the path they are taking, expect to see near immediate heavy sanctions on Iran to limit their progress. If these sanctions aren’t implemented, then what Trump was trying to do here is simply beyond me.
Whatever the future holds, however, this was a poor decision. It only serves to increase global tensions at an already icy patch in international relations, and helps to make an enemy out of a genuinely powerful country in the Middle East. In Britain, we are near obliged to follow the US in foreign policy. Let us hope it does not have serious consequences.