Mark Fitzpatrick:

Trump cannot unilaterally renegotiate JCPOA

News ID: 3852972 -
TEHRAN, Dec. 19 (MNA) – Director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) believes Trump is smart enough to keep JCPOA alive, at least to avoid the blame possibly put on the first party to undermine the deal.

Mark Fitzpatrick told Javad Heirannia of Mehr News International Service in a short interview that any Trumpian scheme to kill the JCPOA would have far-reaching impact on the US’ European allies parties to the deal; he underplays Trump’s campaign promises; “during the campaign, Trump said many things about the JCPOA, some of them contradictory.”

Mr. Fitzpatrick’s article is a critical discussion of claims of violations of the deal both by the US and Iran; there, Fitzpatrick argues that neither side had been violating the JCPOA. “The most consistent thing he said, however, was that he would renegotiate the deal," he said. "Because it is an international agreement among eight parties, he cannot unilaterally renegotiate it.”

President-elect Donald Trump claimed during the presidential campaign that Obama showed favoritism toward Iran in the nuclear agreement and that he would renegotiate it. What will Trump actually do?

During the campaign Trump said many things about the JCPOA, some of them contradictory. The most consistent thing he said, however, was that he would renegotiate the deal. Because it is an international agreement among eight parties, he cannot unilaterally renegotiate it. He can impose new sanctions on Iran in order to try to pressure it to seek a new deal, either to replace the JCPOA or to supplement it. 

The circle around Trump included severe opponents of Iran and the JCPOA. How much will this circle impact Trump's foreign policy about Iran?

Most of the men advising Trump on foreign policy matters and those he has named to key positions are known to have grave concerns about Iran's behavior, including its involvement in other states. One might say they are antagonistic toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, recognizing that there are some valid reasons for this. Because they are the ones who will be filling in the details of his foreign policy and implementing it, their views matter a great deal. Although Trump himself may be inclined to make a deal with Iran, his advisers will be more inclined to first up the pressure. 

Some argue the Trump will not violate the JCPOA and instead will impose sanctions Iran on grounds of terrorism and human rights violations. If so, how will such actions affect the future of JCPOA?

I think that prediction is correct. Trump is smart enough to realize that if he tries to kill the deal, America will bear the blame and his allies will not be inclined to join in any 'snap-back' of sanctions. He instead will put pressure on Iran in other ways, so that if Iran responds by breaking the deal, it will bear the burden of blame. It would be best if no party violated the deal. Instead, those who want to strengthen the deal should seek to supplement or replace it with a new deal, meanwhile keeping the JCPOA alive.

Suppose Trump does violate the JCPOA, then what will be the reaction of the US’ European allies?

If the US unilaterally violates the JCPOA, it would cause a foreign policy crisis with America's partners, particularly those who were also party to the accord. Most of them would be reluctant to join the US in imposing new sanctions on Iran.

Mark Fitzpatrick is Executive Director of IISS–Americas, responsible for representing the institute in the Western Hemisphere. He also heads the IISS Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme.

Interview by: Javad Heirannia

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