Actualidad Económica, May 21

Iran: Trump Has Done the Right Thing

The problem is Iran, not the White House.

2018-05-21 by Rafael Bardaji

Iran is not a regular country: It is an Islamist theocratic regime with a revolutionary project since 1979. Iran, with hegemonic ambitions for the entire Middle East, aspires to crush all those who do not accept its creed. Today Iran is fighting Saudi Arabia in Yemen, from where its missiles are fired against Riyadh; it is present in Iraq, where it counts with a more than friendly government in power; it controls the fate of Lebanon militarily and politically via the terrorist organization, Hizballah; and it is expanding its presence in the midst of Syria's civil war.

With an economy close to collapse and a population silenced by brutal repression, Iran’s most recent foreign adventure was facilitated by the billions of dollars at its disposal thanks to the nuclear deal reached in 2015 with Obama, three European countries, Russia, and China. Without that injection of dollars, Iran would not have had the ability to destabilize the entire region — as it is still doing.

The recently-rejected nuclear deal by president Trump sought, theoretically, to constrain the Iranian nuclear program, limiting its ability to enrich uranium. However, it would be so only for 15 years, with some of its clauses softening even years before. In other words, instead of preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon, that option would just be delayed in time. Obama did not seek to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program; he sought to reintegrate Iran as the decisive actor in the region. Logically, that was quickly condemned by Arab countries and Israel.

Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized the deal as "the worst agreement ever negotiated by the United States" and promised to withdraw if some of the most important points were not fixed — from the inspection system to the time limit of its validity. In January he gave 120 days to his European allies to fix it. The Europeans have proved incapable of proposing the necessary changes. As a result, on Tuesday, Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the deal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran. It is the right thing to do. Iran was the great beneficiary of the deal and, as in the past, it will be open to negotiation only under pressure. The Europeans say they will save the deal, although they do know that is impossible. If they want so badly to avoid conflict, it would be better if they apply themselves to forcing Iran to renounce the bomb and to stop its destabilizing and violent behavior. The problem is Iran, not the White House.