During his successful run for the presidency, Donald Trump stuck to one simple message: Americans were getting raw deals both domestically and abroad, and he’d be able to craft better ones.
High on his list of purportedly bungled agreements? The landmark deal that the Obama administration and its allies struck with Iran in 2015 that called for lifting punishing Western economic sanctions in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program. Trump has derided the agreement as “the stupidest deal of all time,” one that will “give Iran, absolutely, nuclear weapons.” Trump has alternately called for scrapping the entire thing or renegotiating its terms.
You might expect his election to make the people who opposed the Iran deal very excited by the prospect of the US pulling out of it. But that’s not what’s happening. Despite the fact that the Saudi Arabian government lobbied against the deal, a senior Saudi prince has cautioned against scrapping it. Foreign policy advocates in the US who thought the deal didn’t do enough to derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions have said it’s better to stick with it. And prominent Republican lawmakers have backed away from the idea of discarding it.
Their argument? Tehran has already received tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for shipping out a large chunk of its enriched uranium and taking thousands of centrifuges offline. If Washington pulled out of the deal, Tehran could theoretically restart those centrifuges and renew its push for nuclear weapons — while keeping the money.