A mural on the wall of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images
In announcing yesterday that he would not waive sanctions against Iran, President Trump put the United States in violation of the nuclear deal and left the agreement’s future in doubt.
Why it matters: There’s no denying that this is a crisis of Trump’s own making. Iran is not in violation of the JCPOA, a fact confirmed by not only IAEA inspectors but also by Trump’s own Secretary of Defense. Even the Israeli intelligence that Trump cited shows nothing more than the fact that Iran had a nuclear program prior to 2003.
Although the deal didn’t address every concern, it was successfully preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Trump has instead opted for an uncertain future, raising the risks of an Iranian bomb and a U.S–Iranian conflict.
It’s another page in the playbook that guided Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a decision he has since tried to reverse — and his approach to North Korea, which began with a series of increasingly hostile tweets that could have precipitated a war.
The bottom line: Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal is the latest example of his tendency to manufacture foreign policy crises where none exist. His “shoot first, ask questions later” foreign policy ultimately makes us all less safe.
Emma Ashford is a research fellow at the Cato Institute.