LONDON, U.K.—The extraordinary thing is that there is no Plan B. If Donald Trump’s re-imposition of American sanctions on Iran does not cause President Hassan Rouhani’s government to buckle at once (which is almost unimaginable), there is nothing else he can do short of going to war with the country. And he couldn’t even win that war.
Iran is entirely within its rights in condemning Trump’s action. All the other signatories to the deal that hobbled Iran’s nuclear program–Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China—agree that Tehran is in full compliance with its terms, as do the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and U.S. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis.
All of Trump’s complaints about the deal are about things it was never intended to cover, and it does not contain those things because Iran would never agree to terms that effectively gave the United States control over its foreign policy. If Trump wants to try to negotiate that kind of deal anyway, it is not necessary to terminate the nuclear treaty in order to do so.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
But it’s a mistake to apply rational analysis to Trump’s action, because this was an emotional decision, not a rational one. It is part of his obsession with expunging every single achievement of the Obama administration: health care, the opening to Cuba, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Paris climate treaty, and now the Iran nuclear deal.