Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Tillerson's Exit Could Doom the Iran Nuclear Deal

Tillerson's Exit Could Doom the Iran Nuclear Deal

U.S. President Donald Trump's choice of the Central Intelligence Agency director to replace Rex Tillerson means an Iran hawk who fiercely opposed the 2015 pact as a member of Congress will now be in charge of the U.S. diplomacy trying to strengthen, and perhaps save, it. The president wants European allies to join him in demanding an end to Iran's ballistic-missile testing, which are not addressed by the nuclear deal; unrestricted access for United Nations nuclear inspectors to Iran's military sites, which have previously hosted nuclear weapons experimentation; and permanent caps on Iran's enrichment of fissile material, which in the current deal sunset within 10 to 15 years.

"Though these measures constitute a significant change in our sanctions posture, comprehensive non-nuclear-related sanctions with respect to Iran remain in place", President Trump insisted.

If Trump opts to reimpose USA sanctions on Iran after May 12, European Union officials have warned that Brussels might try to block the American measures and protect European companies investing in the Iranian market.

"The officials say Trump told Netanyahu that until now the three European powers only proposed "cosmetic changes" that he doesn't find satisfactory". The order was announced to deal with "the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Iran". Earlier this year, the President waived sanctions to give our lawmakers and our allies time to act.

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Other European officials and former US officials said Pompeo's rise, if he is confirmed as secretary of state by the Senate, might have a more ambiguous effect on the negotiations and that, in any case, Trump's views are paramount.

European diplomats saw some chance Pompeo may have more influence over Trump than Tillerson, who antagonized the USA president by reportedly calling him a "moron" and who differed with Trump on Iran and other issues. But analysts said European banks and other firms are already reluctant to do business in Iran due to the threat of a possible "snap-back" of USA sanctions and don't want to lose their access to the vast American market. Under that scenario, the United States - and Israel - may decide to take military action to prevent Iran from obtaining the bomb or at least slow down a bid for nuclear-tipped missiles.

"The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program", said Votel.

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