Why Decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal Would Be a Bad Idea

Why Decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal Would Be a Bad Idea


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking at the United Nations in September.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

President Trump is expected to announce next week whether he will withdraw certification of the nuclear deal with Iran that was negotiated by the Obama administration. The Washington Post reported Thursday that he is planning to decertify the deal. This page has long argued that is wrong-headed, and will ultimately prove to be a step that antagonizes Iran, a major regional power, and leads to the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world.

Here’s why:

It ignores that the deal is working. The deal was intended to keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon, a crucial and necessary goal. Critics ignore the fact that the deal is doing that, as the International Atomic Energy Agency, which rigorously monitors Iran’s activities, and even Mr. Trump’s own State Department have certified.

It would alienate our allies and make a bad situation with North Korea even worse. If America withdraws from the agreement, it will outrage the other major powers that are party to the deal — France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — and give Iran an excuse to resume a full-blown nuclear program. Why Mr. Trump would risk that when North Korea’s program is a full-time concern is a mystery.

It sends the wrong message to Iran, and that’s dangerous. As it has been with other foreign policy issues, the Trump administration’s approach to Iran has been full of mixed messages. Yet amid the confusion, there has been an ominous tendency to demonize Iran and misrepresent the threat it presents. This could lead to an unnecessary and risky confrontation.

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