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Trump's move to decertify Iran nuclear deal is misguided

October 12, 2017

Mark N. Katz

Now that President Donald Trump has announced he is decertifying the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, he is more likely to isolate America from its many allies who support the deal rather than isolate Iran, a George Mason University professor said.

In addition, said Mark N. Katz, professor of government and politics in the Schar School of Policy and Government, decertifying the deal will benefit Russia.

“When the Obama administration was negotiating the Iranian nuclear accord, Moscow actually worried that this would lead to an overall improvement in Iranian-American relations that would make Tehran less dependent on Russia,” Katz said. “Hostile Iranian-American relations, by contrast, help make Tehran more dependent on Moscow.”

“It is not a coincidence,” Katz continued, “that just as Trump was to announce his decision to decertify Iran, Moscow made it known that Putin will be visiting Tehran before the end of 2017.”

Decertification creates other problems for the United States, Katz said, beyond that the other signatories to the deal (Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China) all believe Iran is in compliance.

Iran undoubtedly will put into top gear its push for a nuclear weapon, as it has the technical capacity to do so. And any imposition of sanctions against Iran will inflame America’s allies in Europe and Asia, over their sense the United States is encroaching on their sovereignty for what they will consider specious reasons.

“[Decertification] will not necessarily lead to the demise of the agreement, as Trump will leave it to Congress to decide upon any action,” Katz said. “Trump may think a better deal can now be reached with Tehran, or decertifying Iran is just punishment for Iranian actions he disapproves of in Syria and elsewhere. But instead of hurting Iran, Trump’s actions may do harm to American interests instead.”

Mark N. Katz, previously a visiting senior fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, can be reached at 703-993-1420 and mkatz@gmu.edu.

For more information, contact Damian Cristodero at 703-993-9118 or dcristod@gmu.edu.

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