What Next After the U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal?


President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal last week, his main complaint being that it was a poorly negotiated deal that didn’t include important provisions. The President would like to see the deal expanded to include Iran’s non-nuclear, ballistic missile program as well as their alleged state sponsoring of terror in places like Syria, Yemen and Lebanon addressed.

The U.S. along with the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China signed the deal with Iran in 2015. The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions in exchange for Iran’s halting of its nuclear program.

The U.S. has announced that it wants to see the terms of the deal renegotiated. It also announced that it will be re-imposing economic sanctions until Iran agrees to new, revised terms. “We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States,” the President said when announcing the withdrawal.

It’s unclear what happens now.

State Department officials, in a background briefing to reporters after the President’s announcement, revealed there will be a wind-down period of six months for countries and corporations currently conducting business with Iran to end those activities. At the conclusion of that period new sanctions will be imposed.

Whether negotiations have been scheduled with either Iran or any of the other P5+1 countries, as they’re known in diplomatic shorthand is another question. As of now, no such talks have been announced.

“I have no difficulty whatever with that goal; the question is, how does the US propose to achieve it?” British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said of renegotiating a deal with Iran to British Parliament.

“Now that the Trump Administration have left the JCPOA, the responsibility falls on them to describe how they, in Washington, will build a new negotiated solution to our shared concerns—a settlement that must necessarily include Iran, China and Russia, as well as countries in the region.”

ITN reached out to the State Department to ask if any direct talks have been set with any of the countries in P5+1 or with Iran. A State Department spokesperson sent the following statement to ITN:

“The President has directed his administration to work with nations around the world to create a new coalition to counter Iran’s nuclear and proliferation threats, as well as its support for terrorism, militancy, and asymmetric weapons like ballistic missiles. This coalition will bring all necessary pressure to bear on Iran to change its behavior.”

In a joint statement last week, the leaders of France, the U.K. and Germany expressed concern over the U.S.’ decision and confirmed they would remain parties to the deal despite the U.S’ announcement.

“According to the [International Atomic Energy Agency], Iran continues to abide by the restrictions set out by the JCPoA, in line with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The world is a safer place as a result. Therefore we, the E3, will remain parties to the JCPoA,” the statement read.

Both Russia and China have also indicated they intend to remain in the deal. Russia says it will try to keep the deal operational despite the U.S.’ withdrawal. China joined Europe in its response, expressing support for the deal as presently constituted.

“Having a deal is better than no deal. Dialogue is better than confrontation,” China’s special envoy to the Middle East, Gong Xiaosheng, said in a press conference in Iran after the President’s announcement.

It is unclear how effective sanctions against Iran will be if they are leveled by the U.S. alone.

Photo by the U.S. State Department via Flickr

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