United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday withdrew the United States of America from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA deal with Iran, a move which could allow the middle-east country to resume enrichment of uranium.
The agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has been on the rocks since Trump’s election, and the resulting climate of uncertainty spooked many large firms from doing business in Iran, thus diminishing the economic incentives that drew Iran to the agreement in the first place.
Iran agreed to rein in its nuclear programme in a 2015 deal struck with the US, UK, Russia, China, France, and Germany.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) Tehran agreed to significantly cut its stores of centrifuges, enriched uranium, and heavy-water, all key components for nuclear weapons.
The JCPOA established the Joint Commission, with the negotiating parties all represented, to monitor implementation of the agreement.
It had been hit with devastating economic sanctions by the United Nations, United States, and the European Union that are estimated to have cost it tens of billions of pounds a year in lost oil export revenues. Billions in overseas assets had also been frozen.
Trump and opponents to the deal say it is flawed because it gives Iran access to billions of dollars but does not address Iran’s support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists, like Hamas and Hezbollah. They note it also doesn’t curb Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and that the deal phases out by 2030. They say Iran has lied about its nuclear program in the past.
The agreement was signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany — and Iran. The deal was also enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution, incorporating it into international law.
Some of the US’ closest allies, the UK, France, and Germany, issued a statement expressing “regret and concern” about the decision, emphasizing Iran’s compliance with the deal and their “continuing commitment” to the deal. The leaders of those countries failed in their attempts to convince Trump to preserve the deal.
Russia meanwhile said the deal was “new confirmation of Washington’s incompetence,” and underscored that the US, not Iran, is now technically in violation of the deal.
Experts believe that, should Iran choose to resume the enrichment of uranium, it could build a bomb within about a year. The sanctions, meanwhile, could take months to go into effect as the US government develops guidance for companies and banks.