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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2344

President Trump Withdraws US from Iranian Nuclear Agreement

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

The pendulum of Iranian Nuclear Agreement that used to oscillate between uncertainty and misplaced optimism finally came to a halt at the point of stalemate, shortly after 2pm ET on Tuesday, after President Trump signed the order to pull the US out of it.

Last minute appeals from European leaders and foreign ministers simply fell on deaf ears. Trump administration appeared to have made a decision to do a complete ‘U’ turn while discussing the potential issues with the allies.

President Trump said that he would impose more sanctions on Iran, delivering a significant blow to its already ailing economy. Then, there was a warning to the countries that do business with Iran: toe the line or face the consequences.

In effect, with that threat, many European companies – and countries –could potentially be on the US radar for all the wrong reasons. In this context, the recent heightened moves by the Western leaders, not to escalate the issue into crisis, is understandable.

As expected, Israel was in a buoyant mood after the announcement. There may be countries which were happy about the development without going public about it. Saudi Arabia and the UAE may be among them, despite maintaining a silence in public.

The move is a hammer blow to the Iranian economy; the news could not have come at a worse time.

Even before the decision was made, Iranian rial has been in freefall – losing a third of its value. In this context, the news of imposition of new sanctions could not have come at a worse time.

Iran breathed a sigh of relief when Obama administration managed to strike a comprehensive deal with the West, China and Russia to suspend its nuclear proliferation programme in return for the removal of sanctions.

President Trump, however, did not see it that way; he promised during the presidential campaign that it was a bad deal and he would tear it up; he just did it.

Although, Iranian authorities felt the omens of the deal being amended, they may not have seen the scenario of it being dropped as it happened on Tuesday.

Iran warned the US last week that the latter has to face the inevitable consequences if it scraps the deal. After the decision was made, however, Iranian authorities appeared to have softened its hard-line stance. Iran, however, said later it would increase uranium enrichment activities.

It is clear that the US is applying maximum pressure on Iran by the introduction of new sets sanctions, perhaps forcing it to come to its knees. The development in North Korea may have inspired the US adopt a hard-line on Iran by imposing crippling sanctions.

With an economy in the doldrums and the youth unemployment very high, the room for manoeuvre for the authorities is very limited. Iran pins its hope on the Western countries, assuming that they would stick with Iran to guarantee the survival of the agreement.

The worse part of yesterday’s announcement was the threat against the counties that do business with Iran. There will be lots of countries that could incur the wrath of the US, if the latter sticks to its guns.

The downside is the tendency of subjecting international agreements to bi-partisan US politics, which could set a bad precedent, especially at a time when President Trump is hoping to reach a deal with North Korea.

- Asian Tribune -

President Trump Withdraws US from Iranian Nuclear Agreement
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