TEHRAN – A former Iranian nuclear negotiator says U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to extend sanctions relief over the 2015 nuclear accord showed that he had backed down from his plan to exit the deal.
Trump vowed to withdraw from the deal if Congress failed to meet his conditions, but Congress remained unaffected by his threats, which in turn forced the U.S. president to repeat his empty threats while extending sanctions relief for Iran, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who is currently a researcher at Princeton University, told ILNA on Saturday.
Iran and six world powers – the U.S., UK, Russia, France, China, and Germany – on July 14, 2015 struck the landmark nuclear deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
On Friday, Trump avoided upending the JCPOA which he has repeatedly disparaged, agreeing to waive key sanctions the U.S. lifted as part of the deal.
He warned in a statement that the waiver – which must be issued every 120 days to keep the sanctions from kicking back in – will be the last he issues and he delivered a stark ultimatum to European allies on Friday: “Fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw.”
“Trump is convinced the U.S. will be isolated if he exits nuclear agreement.”
The U.S. president coupled his waiver announcement with new sanctions on 14 Iranian individuals and entities, claiming they have committed human rights abuses or supported the country’s ballistic missile programs, which are outside the scope of the nuclear pact.
Mousavian said the new sanctions were “superficial” and did not pose a threat to Iran’s economy. But, he said, since Trump keeps blowing hot and cold on the issue, other countries – especially Europeans – have become reluctant to invest in Iran’s economy.
This has severely hurt Iran’s trade with the world, he said, predicting that the U.S. will continue adopting such policy toward Tehran.
Europeans strongly defended the JCPOA
The ex-nuclear negotiator also highlighted the role European countries played to preserve the JCPOA, saying they have strongly defended the deal, since they see it as one of their diplomatic successes.
He said the Europeans have been lobbying hard in the United States to put pressure on Trump to remain committed to the JCPOA.
Trump also failed to persuade Congress or any member of his cabinet to exit the pact, he said.
This convinced him that exiting the nuclear agreement unilaterally would isolate him and the U.S. in the world, he added.