05/08/2018, 00.00
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Trump cancels nuclear agreement and orders 'the highest level' of sanctions

By attacking the "decaying and corrupt" deal of the Obama era, the US leader threatens retaliation against those who "help" the Iranian government. For Trump, the Islamic Republic sponsors “terrorism" and supports groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and al Qaeda. But the European Union wants the JCPOA to remain in place.

Washington (AsiaNews) – "[T]he United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal", a " decaying and rotten" agreement that must be renegotiated, said US President Donald Trump, thus putting an end to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in 2015 by then President Barack Obama. Trump’s decision comes in spite of appeals by the United Nations, the European Union, and international experts.

After his announcement, Trump signed a presidential memorandum, “reinstating,” he said, “US nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”

As US administration sources and foreign leaders had already hinted at, President Trump finally ended the most important diplomatic success of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

He also made a not so veiled threat against America’s European partners, including Germany, United Kingdom and France, by saying that “Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”

In signing the death warrant for the deal, Trump kept his word and done what he pledged to do during the election campaign after calling the JPCOA the “worst” agreement ever signed.

The Europeans tried to save the deal, which had stopped Iran’s nuclear programme as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but all the latest diplomatic attempts have come to nought.

Reacting to the announcement, the Iranian government has already said that its response to the US decision would harsh.

In justifying his action, Trump called Iran “the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban and Al Qaeda.”

With respect to the last group, the US leader probably forgot that it was founded by Osama bin Laden and involves Sunni extremists who are among their first enemies of Shia Islam whose main supporter is Iran’s clerical regime.

Speaking about the “previous administration", Trump said that "In theory, the so-called ‘Iran deal’ was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime.” However, “In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and — over time — reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.”

For the US leader, Iran never ceased pursuing nuclear research, noting that deal should have neve been struck. In reality, the JCPOA gave hope to the Iranian population, boosting the country’s economy as oil sales and trade increased.

Now, renewed sanctions could undermine the small progress achieved so far since they will penalise anyone trading with the country. On the medium and long term, sanctions could mean a loss of 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil from international markets.

The main point of the 2015 agreement was the end of international business and financial sanctions on Iran over its controversial nuclear programme in exchange for Iran’s agreement to limit its nuclear programme and allow regular monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to its nuclear facilities, which Tehran claims to be civilian in nature without any military purpose, as Western countries fear.

Meanwhile, European leaders have once again reiterated their willingness to maintain the deal.  “The European Union is determined to preserve it,” said EU Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had also appealed to US President Donald Trump not to abandon the agreement. In an interview with the BBC, he said conflict was a real possibility if the agreement was not maintained.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had recently presented what he deemed Tehran's “secret” nuclear activity that violated the agreement. Iranian officials responded by calling the Israeli leader a “liar”.

In the meantime, the various stakeholders are lining up on opposite sides. European nations (plus Russia and the United Nations) want to maintain the JCPOA; by contrast, the United States (with Israel and Saudi Arabia) want more sanctions against Iran, which they blame for the region’s instability and for sponsoring terrorism.

For his part, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made it clear that he would not accept any "further restrictions" than those agreed in the agreement, noting that his country’s nuclear programme was peaceful in nature and aimed at developing nuclear energy.

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