Will trump revoke the nuclear agreement with iran?

Rouhani and ali akbar salehi in bushehr, 2015. Photo: hossein heidarpour / cc by 4.0

On the question, the new us president could be serious

It is not particularly easy to predict donald trump’s policies. Especially not the policy of the designated u.S. President. Not because trump did not speak out on all relevant and irrelevant ies, but because he claimed pretty much everything and its opposite: sometimes he supported the war in iraq, then again he did not. At one point, he announced that he would reintroduce torture of prisoners. Then he wanted to know nothing about it. At times he buried the attack on libya, then criticized it. Sometimes he wanted to abolish nato, but then preferred to keep it again.

Trump: lifting sanctions against iran a "disaster"

On one ie, however, the hotel billionaire stayed true to his line for a long time: iran. Or more precisely: the nuclear agreement, which he wants to revoke if he is elected. A "disaster" in his election campaign, he referred to the lifting of sanctions against the islamic republic by the eu, the usa and the un. The nuclear agreement, which had been negotiated, among others, by his official: "the worst deal ever negotiated."

At a meeting of the pro-israel lobbying organization american israel public affairs committee (aipac), trump once even described the withdrawal of the agreement as a "first priority" of his term in office.

So, will trump really kill the agreement he painstakingly negotiated over the years, which promised iran an end to sanctions in exchange for largely shutting down its nuclear program, and thus add another crisis to the islamic world that is not short of crises??

It’s not just his campaign rhetoric that suggests trump could actually be serious: as the financial times reported friday, trump’s team is said to have already explored the possibilities of new sanctions. Republican congressmen have been contacted to explore possible joint action against iran, the newspaper reports, citing unnamed congressional insiders.

Hopes for a more conciliatory tone?

Opponents in the u.S. Political establishment also appear to be taking seriously the threat of a tougher iran policy under trump: as "peak of folly" is how cia chief john brennan, who is not exactly known as an iran apologist, described a withdrawal from the agreement last week, and warned his president-designate against it "catastrophic" consequences.

Two weeks earlier, 76 representatives of the u.S. Security establishment mobilized against donald trump’s alleged iran plans: in a joint appeal, they urged trump to call the agreement a "basis for cooperation on other ies, including the shared desire of iran and the u.S. To destroy the islamic state…." to be understood.

Many observers these days seem to be hoping that trump will subordinate his anti-iran policy to his anti-is policy after all. After all, trump had repeatedly announced massive attacks on the terror militia during the election campaign and also struck conciliatory tones against iran’s allies syria and russia in that regard.

A hope, however, that another person in trump’s entourage has recently put into perspective: james mattis. Former army general’s choice as future defense secretary will put an outspoken anti-iran hardliner in the pentagon. Mattis, responsible for one of the bloodiest chapters of the iraq war with the siege of the iraqi city of fallujah, is seen as a vehement supporter of a more aggressive iran policy.

Hardliners in the chambers

Speaking earlier this year at the washington-based think tank center for strategic and international studies, he described iran as a "the single greatest threat to stability and peace in the middle east". The country is "not a nation-state, it is a revolutionary cause committed to chaos". Formally, the appointment of mattis, who resigned from military service only in 2013 after 44 years in the army, must be approved by congress. His approval, however, is considered certain.

It is not least congress that will be decisive for the direction of trump’s iran policy. The two republican-dominated chambers contain heaps of self-declared iran hardliners who were pushing for a rollback of the nuclear agreement even before trump was elected. On friday of last week, they showed that they are willing to do so regardless of president trump’s plans.

A majority in both chambers of congress decided to extend still-existing u.S. Sanctions against iran’s banking sector and the country’s energy and defense industries for another 10 years. While the congressmen justified this with iranian missile programs, iran’s head of state ali khamenei criticized the "iran sanctions act" as "clear violation" against the nuclear agreement. The u.S. President, who will sign the resolution in all probability in the next few days, is not trump, but obama.

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