EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Despite President Donald Trump’s disapproval of the JCPOA agreement with Iran, which he promised during his election campaign to “rip up,” he has been persuaded by his advisers to recertify it. He has also, however, gotten the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran as a penalty for developing nuclear missiles, supporting terror, and undermining international order. The Iranian leadership responded with a threat to quit the JCPOA and renew uranium enrichment at a high level. Though the IAEA has not yet determined that Iran has violated the agreement, Western experts view Iran’s behavior as problematic. They fear Iran could break the rules and renew its nuclear weapons program, and that it will be encouraged to do so by North Korea’s provocative stance toward the US.
Barack Obama’s legacy to Donald Trump included the Iranian nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed in July 2015 in Vienna by Iran, the P5+1 powers, and the EU. Though some say a good agreement is one with which no party is entirely happy, in this case the reality was different: Obama was very pleased with the deal.
Almost two months earlier, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, Obama spoke with great confidence about his legacy. “Twenty years from now, I’m still going to be around,” he said. “If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this … I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.” On the day the JCPOA was signed, Obama retorted to his Republican opponents in Congress who wanted to block the agreement: “Ninety-nine percent of the world community and the majority of nuclear experts look at this thing and they say this will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.”
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