Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Making the world a more dangerous place

In 2015, after years of tension, then-US President Barack Obama signed a nuclear deal with Iran. The deal was simple: the US would drop its sanctions regime, and Iran would give up its nuclear weapons program. And it worked: Iran kept its commitments, and IAEA inspectors have verified this. It made the world a safer place.

Donald Trump has now torn all of that up:

Donald Trump has announced he will impose “the highest level of economic sanctions” on Iran, violating an international nuclear agreement and a UN resolution, breaking decisively with US allies in Europe, and potentially triggering a new crisis in the Gulf.

In a statement at the White House, Trump said this decision meant that the US would “exit the Iran deal” agreed with other major powers in 2015, and warned that “any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could be strongly sanctioned”.

He then signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on any foreign company that continues to do business with Iran. The order gives companies 90-day or 180-day grace periods to extract themselves from existing Iranian contacts or face punitive US measures.

Its a stupid decision, taking for seemingly no reason at all (apparently getting what you want by talking rather than threatening or bombing is not acceptable to US Republicans). And the likely consequence is that Iran will restart its nuclear program, putting the US on the same path towards war that it was in 2015 (a war the US government at the time recognised it couldn't win - a reality those aggressive Republicans probably see as treasanous or something). So the US will be right back where it started, with a problem it can't solve by bombing, strong incentives for Iran to get nuclear weapons and a ticking clock to do so, and reduced chances of negotiating a way out because it has just told Iran that it does not keep its word. Its practically Darwin Award-worthy.

But its not just Iran it is telling it is untrustworthy, but the whole world. To point out the obvious, Donald Trump is currently trying to negotiate a denuclearisation deal with North Korea. And he's just told them, before talks have even started, that he might not stick to it, and that he might just change his mind if he gets questioned by the FBI or sued for defamation by a porn star. So why would North Korea agree to anything with such an untrustworthy partner?