During his election campaign, President Trump called a nuclear deal with Iran, originally negotiated by the Obama administration and five other world powers, “the worst deal ever” and promised to scrap it.
In exchange for sanctions relief, Iran promised to curb its nuclear program. The sanctions waivers need to be renewed periodically, and Wednesday was the first deadline; leaving it up to Trump. He decided to approve the waivers, essentially giving money to Iran.
Former Israeli Atomic Energy Commission official and INSS expert Ephraim Asculai told reporters that Trump has “an obligation to continue with the deal until he formulates what to do. If he had not approved the sanctions waiver, he would have fallen into a trap.”
Asculai praised Trump’s decision not to shake things up right away, noting, it would “not have been good to make a decision about the deal under time pressure, this is obvious. But he also extended other sanctions against Iran.”
Stating that Trump is reviewing the Iran deal on a “holistic level,” Asculai said his waiving of nuclear-deal sanctions “was not a change in approach,” rather, it was done to buy time. He believes six months should be sufficient.
Urging Trump to continue to project an aggressive attitude with Iran, Asculai said that he thinks Trump’s renegotiated version of the deal “should put stronger obligations on Iran and the IAEA for stronger inspections.”
Former Strategic Affairs Ministry director-general and Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs expert Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser agreed with Asculai, adding, “The real test will be the review by [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson.”
According to Kuperwasser, the Iranians had “made concessions regarding their enriched uranium, but have not yet completed development of advanced centrifuges [for enriching uranium] or reaped the economic benefits” they will receive as part of the deal. He added that right after a review is made by Tillerson would be the best time for a renegotiation, “because the Iranians are currently in a temporarily weaker position.”
Congress never endorsed the deal, which means that Trump can force a renegotiation on his own regardless of what Iran, Europe, Russia and China might say about it.
Kuperwasser also pointed out that Trump’s recent use of military force in Syria, his strikes on Afghanistan and his strong tone with North Korea will have an effect on Iran, causing them to worry about confronting America’s new president.
“If the US decides to continue with the agreement [with no changes] that would be grave,” Kuperwasser cautioned.
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