With his decision to withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump has put the long-term future of the deal in doubt, at the very least. In a televised announcement from the White House, Trump said the United States would reimpose the “highest level” of economic sanctions against Iran and would hold other nations accountable for violating those sanctions. During his truculent presentation, Trump asserted that the Iran nuclear deal—known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—was “horrible” and “one-sided.” Even if Iran complied with the terms of the “decaying and rotten structure” of the JCPOA, the president claimed, it could move to the verge of creating nuclear weapons in “a very short time” even as it continued to build nuclear-capable missiles and support terrorism across the Middle East and the world. (The president’s claims run counter to the assessments of the numerous international security experts who note that the JCPOA’s intrusive inspection regime and other components would prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons indefinitely.)
As he announced US withdrawal from the Iran deal, Trump threatened dire consequences for Iran if it resumed work toward nuclear weapons. At the same time, he asserted that his administration would work with allies toward a new deal that he was “ready, willing and able” to negotiate with Iran. Iran has previously insisted it will not renegotiate the JCPOA.
In the immediate aftermath of Trump’s decision, it was unclear how Iran, the other five countries that agreed to the JCPOA—Russia, China, the UK, France, and Germany—and the rest of the world would respond over the long term. The Bulletin invited a wide variety of top international security experts to provide comments on Trump’s decision and its potentially wide-ranging ramifications. Their responses are published below, in hopes they will help the international community find the best possible path forward.