In 2015, the United States, Germany, France, UK, Russia, China, and Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as the Iran Deal. The deal was heralded as Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement and lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran. In exchange, Iran would limit its controversial nuclear energy program, which some feared would be used to create nuclear weapons. The effects of the economic sanctions were staggering. Iran was not permitted to sell oil on international markets and cost Iran an estimated $160 billion in oil revenue from 2012 to 2016 alone. According to the deal, Iran would gain access to $100 billion in off shore frozen assets alone and would be permitted to sell oil on international markets again. However, if any part of the deal were to be violated, the sanctions would be reinforced for another ten to fifteen years.
Recently, President Trump has threatened to leave the deal if Congress refuses to change it. Trump believes that Iran has not been compliant to the deal, although most world leaders disagree. “In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said. “It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me, as president, at any time.” In response, Iran has threatened to completely terminate the deal should the United States back out. According to Reuters, the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “Trump’s stupidity should not distract us from America’s deceitfulness … If the U.S. tears up the deal, we will shred it … Everyone should know that once again America will receive a slap in its mouth and will be defeated by Iranians.”
However, if Iran is successful in creating a nuclear missile, a power vacuum in the Middle East will be created, and America’s allies in the region, especially Israel, will be threatened.
Meanwhile, European leaders have recommitted to the Iran deal, no matter what Trump decides to do. The European Union has been stepping up efforts to save the deal. They view it as critical to global and regional security. Recently, an EU official said that “We will defend the nuclear deal and stand by the nuclear deal and implement the nuclear deal. But we also don’t want to be standing on a completely opposing side to the U.S.”. Clearly, the EU is in a precarious situation. The official continued to say, “If they withdraw, we would be left in a rather interesting company with China and Russia. So there may be an issue of separating the nuclear deal from the ballistic program and Iran’s regional role, sending signals on the latter two.”
It seems that the United States and Israel have the most to lose here. Iran will have the political high ground if the United States leaves the deal and no concrete evidence that Iran cheated on the sanctions emerges. However, if Iran is successful in creating a nuclear missile, a power vacuum in the Middle East will be created, and America’s allies in the region, especially Israel, will be threatened. The deal also has the potential to split Europe and the State’s interests. The European Union want to protect their businesses that are investing in Iran, while the United States wants to make the deal’s terms much stricter and harsher, which will, in turn, hurt those European businesses bottom lines.