A group of top Democratic leaders in the US Senate have warned President Donald Trump against leaving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as the Republican head of state prepares to make the announcement with regards to the agreement later on Tuesday.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, co-signed a letter with eleven other senior lawmakers on Monday, in which they asked Trump to avoid unilateral decisions.
Iran’s reaction to be ‘detrimental’
“If the United States unilaterally withdraws from the JCPOA, Iran could either remain in the agreement and seek to isolate the United States from our closest partners, or resume its nuclear activities. Either scenario would be detrimental to our national security interests,” the senators said, using an acronym for the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Iran agreed under the deal with the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany to limit parts of its peaceful nuclear program in exchange for the removal of all nuclear-related sanctions.
However, Trump thinks that the JCPOA, achieved under his predecessor Barack Obama, is flawed and needs to be “fixed” or otherwise scrapped in its entirety.
Trump wants the deal to guarantee unlimited access to Iran’s military sites for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s inspectors.
The American head of state also wants certain mechanisms to be included in the deal in order to limit Iran’s development and testing of ballistic missiles.
Iran, meanwhile, has made it clear that it would not sit down for a renegotiation of the JCPOA.
President Hassan Rouhani says the US will regret a possible withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, assuring that Iran has plans in place to counter any fallout from the decision.
Tehran also regards its missile program and regional activities as part of its “national interests” that are not up for negotiation.
The senators told Trump in their letter that pulling out of the deal and restoring anti-Iran sanctions would damage Washington’s ties with its major allies.
“If Iran continues to abide by the agreement following a unilateral US withdrawal, the only effective way the United States could regenerate sufficient economic leverage over Tehran would be to sanction the very same nations that helped us negotiate the JCPOA in the first place, namely persons and businesses from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, and India, among others,” they said.
Another scenario, the senators warned, was the possibility that Iran would restore all of its nuclear activities to the pre-JCPOA levels.
US President Donald Trump says he will announce whether Washington will pull out of the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday.
This would then take away any America’s hope for a denuclearization agreement with North Korea by discouraging Pyongyang leaders.
“US credibility in those denuclearization discussions would be severely undermined if North Korea concludes that US leaders are willing to unilaterally abrogate such nuclear agreements without cause,” the senators argued.
There are no concrete reports over whether Trump would simply pull out of the JCPOA or buy more time by signing another three-month sanctions waiver.
Indications of a possible pullout
With only a few hours left until the Tuesday announcement, diplomatic sources are almost certain that Trump will take the US out of the landmark deal.
Robert Malley, the former lead White House negotiator on the Iran agreement under President Barack Obama, said Monday that he expected Trump to withdraw from the JCPOA.
An unnamed European diplomat also told ABC News that it was “pretty obvious” Trump would pull out.
Another comprehensive report in this regard came from the New York Times, which cited senior European diplomats as saying the chance that Trump would keep the agreement intact was “very small.”