In 2015, the international Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the major world powers was passed by the U.S. Congress and subsequently signed. It included that Iran allow the IAEA access to investigate suspicious sites or allegations of a covert enrichment facility, reduce the number of its gas centrifuges by about two-thirds for 13 years, and limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent for the next 15 years. Some thought the 15-year limit too short and presented unacceptable national security risks. In May 2018 the president announced the U.S. withdrawal from the deal.

In February 2019, the IAEA certified that Iran was still abiding by the international Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015. However, in July, the IAEA confirmed that Iran had breached both the 300-kg enriched uranium stockpile limit and the 3.67 percent refinement limit. This month, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran will enrich uranium to 5 percent, adding the country has the capability to enrich uranium to 20 percent if needed. Considering Iran’s supreme leader’s statement, “Iran will not negotiate with a knife to its throat,” this was a predictable result.

Unfortunately, the president’s punitive measures against Iran did not work. We got a four-year, instead of a 15-year, moratorium on uranium enrichment, increased regional tensions, and have provided incentive for another country to join the nuclear arms race. Opportunities for diplomatic inroads between nations were squandered. Rather than improving chances for understanding and cooperation between nations, Trump’s action emphasized our differences and promoted animosity between us.

Iran offers us and the world community more than many other countries we currently deal with, i.e., negotiable trade deals, improved scientific interactions and supportive alliances in a troubled region of the world. More than a missed opportunity, exiting the nuclear deal was tragically counterproductive.


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