This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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BY: Jakob Glogauer
A Key Element Still Exists
On the campaign trail in 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the ‘Iran nuclear deal.’ Since he took office, he has kept many of his campaign promises. However, with regards to the Iran deal, while he may have ended the agreement there is still a key element of the deal remaining within his administration’s foreign policy. It is wonderful President Trump took the important measure of withdrawing from the Iran deal.
In fact, it was ended almost two years ago. However, there is still an extra step needed to make it complete. Most of his supporters would agree it was Trump’s goal towards a principled foreign policy that got them hooked on him from the beginning. Most still support him and his administration. The bold move of withdrawing from the Iran deal and moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem were key aspects of his promises.
Trump Has Been Tough on Iran
The Trump administration has done quite a bit to ensure Iran does
not acquire a nuclear weapon. He placed extreme sanctions on them, listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity, and pushed for ‘maximum economic pressure.’ The agreement, however, did not fully end as there is an element to the agreement still in operation. It states every 60 days Iran can renew waivers of foreign firms based in China, Europe (France, Germany, and the United Kingdom), and Russia, and also allows them to operate at civil-nuclear plants in Iran.
Trump deserves praise for his bold and historic foreign policy. He would get even more praise if he would drop this one aspect of the Iran deal. It illustrates that the last component of the Iran deal is still in effect. The sanctions do not cover these waivers. They allow for the United States to continue subtly permitting any sort of nuclear activity to take place in Iran.
This is completely unnecessary. The extension of the waivers is important. It means that the plants are still in operation. The facilities are located in Arak, Bushehr and Tehran. The unfortunate matter is that the JCPOA still exists, and Tehran can still maintain its nuclear program under specific limitations.
Another 30 Days, Another Renewal
Last Monday, March 30, there was another ‘announcement’ day, where State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus confirmed via Twitter that these waivers would be renewed. While Ms. Ortagus does speak on behalf of the federal government regarding official policies, there is a lot of division on this very matter. Many in the administration believe it should be halted.
In late January when the Trump administration renewed the waivers for
another 60 days, it was with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran being sanctioned as well as its head, Ali Akbar Salehi. This time, however, there were no extra sanctions handed out onto any Iranian entity or official. In the past, Representative Liz Cheney, as well as Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, have made statements criticizing the administration’s continued renewal of the waivers. Senator Marco Rubio also joined the group’s call for ensuring the Iran deal is withdrawn from
completely, with the waivers being the final step.
Pompeo and Mnuchin At Odds
At the executive level, there seems to be division between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Pompeo is very much in support of ending the waivers, while Mnuchin is not. The rhetoric used by Secretary Mnuchin reminds one of Obama-era Secretary of State John Kerry, who foolishly believed that working with the Iranian government would prevent them from continuing any production of nuclear arms.
Spokesperson Ortagus mentioned that the State Department can “adjust these restrictions at anytime.” This means that there is a bureaucracy in place. Every 60 days, another simple measure can be put through. This does not sound like it will ever end.
End the Deal for Real
If the Trump administration wants to reach the goal of Iran, ‘never acquiring a nuclear weapon,’ they must end all civil-nuclear waivers immediately. This is important for the safety of citizens around the world, especially those in America and Israel, as Iran does not profess any special love for those two countries.
The successful foreign policy legacy of President Trump should not be one
where the Iran deal was just symbolically withdrawn. It needs to be withdrawn, wholly, with the full notion that there are no pieces still in existence. It was a disastrous deal from the start and it needs to be fully, and permanently, ended. It is then that the president will have fulfilled that very important campaign promise.