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  October 5, 2017

Trump Plans to Decertify Iran Nuclear Deal

Before decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, the US should approach the UN Security Council and the P5+1 with evidence that Iran is not in compliance, says professor Vijay Prashad
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Vijay Prashad is the Executive Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and is also chief editor of LeftWord Books. Vija He is the author of over 18 books among them The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016).


SHARMINI PERIES: It's the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump will move against the Iran nuclear deal in a major speech next week. The Post is reporting that Trump will seek to decertify the deal and say it is not in the interest, at least the national interest, of the United States. If he does, then Congress would then have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions against Iran. This move comes after Trump's UN speech two weeks ago, which served to undermine and assault Iran. Trump has spoken out against the nuclear deal, a major foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration but thus far had not moved to more seriously undermine it through policy. This news comes the same week as Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke out in favor of maintaining the deal.

Joining us now to discuss this is Vijay Prashad. Vijay is the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and professor of International Studies at Trinity College. He's the author of many books, including The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution. Thanks again for joining us, Vijay.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Pleasure, yes.

SHARMINI PERIES: So Vijay, let's begin with your response to what the Washington Post is reporting.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, if we assume that the Washington Post is correct that on October 12th Trump is going to make a speech essentially threatening to decertify Iran and then three days later, which is the deadline, he has to on the October 15th send a report to the US Congress about Iran's progress and America's understanding of its progress in this nuclear deal that was set up in 2015. If he indeed decides to decertify Iran, it should not come entirely as a surprise because he has indeed threatened to do this during the campaign that he ran against Hillary Clinton and from the very beginning of his tenure as the president. He opened up this nine-month review of US Iran policy which some people say was basically designed to bring us to the place where the United States could decertify Iran and therefore scuttle this very important deal which I think is not going to bring smiles on the faces of the Europeans or of other American allies.

SHARMINI PERIES: Vijay, Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu seems to be on the same page as foreign policy hawks, they have tried to undermine the Iran deal saying that it will not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Do you think it has been a success, this alliance between Israel and the Trump administration?

VIJAY PRASHAD: But the fear is if indeed he decertifies Iran on the 12th of October, Israel would have been successful because after all it has been Netanyahu's position that the deal should be nixed. It cannot be fixed. That's his position. His position essentially is to return Iran to sanctions and to put more political pressure on Iran. There's a serious miscalculation by Mr. Trump, Mr. Netanyahu, people who support this decertification effort. It's important for people to know that this is not a US deal with Iran. This is not even a US European deal with Iran.

This is a deal that was then sanctified with a UN Security Council Resolution, Resolution 2231, which was passed by the Security Council in 2015. It has a number of annexes. It's a very important resolution which sets a termination date for this deal 10 years from now with certifications taking place. There's a whole apparatus in place which has been essentially given a UN mandate. So, this is the international community's deal after this UN Security Council vote. The fact that the United States can come and say, "We're going to scuttle the deal," I think is rather inappropriate.

If anything, the United States should approach the United Nations with evidence that show why they've decided to decertify. It should appeal to the United Nations to have a new Security Council Resolution. This is not a bilateral deal. That's what I'm trying to get at. This is a deal that goes through the UN. One of the striking features of the conversation about this Iran deal in the American press is that people in the press forget or they just don't mention the fact that this deal has the backing of a UN Security Council Resolution. To back out of this deal in this way would I think undermine the UN Security Council and the authority of its resolutions.

SHARMINI PERIES: Now, Vijay, as far as Congress is concerned they are open to this possibility, and given that the Trump administration controls both houses of Congress, is there a possibility that these sanctions and decertification will go through?

VIJAY PRASHAD: Well, it's very clear that the Europeans, particularly Germany's Angela Merkel and others have been trying to lobby Congress one way or the other to defend this deal. I mean, let's look at it from the European perspective: Three different political moves were made under the Obama administration that undermined Europe's ability to secure its energy sources. The first was this Iran deal, which basically cut off Europe from a very quick delivery of natural gas and oil from Iran, an entirely overland deliver through Turkey. The second political crisis was the crisis against Libya where the United States and France pushed the war through the UN and essentially destroyed the Libyan state. Libya was a key provider of oil to Europe. The third was this pressure from NATO going eastward against Russia, which provoked the entry of the Russians into Crimea and then sanctions and the end of Russian natural gas into Europe.

So with these three political crises, Europe lost three main suppliers of energy, Iran, Libya, and Russia. In nobody's imagination is Libya and Russia coming back fully online with energy delivery to Europe soon. Iran is coming back with relatively great speed to deliver energy to Europe, so the Europeans are very uncomfortable with the return to tension with Iran. It's not only because they believe in the UN or they want this process to continue, but they have a material reality that faces them which is the energy problem. So, they are going to put as much pressure on the United Nations, put as much pressure on the US Congress to let the deal remain in place.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Vijay. Thank you so much for joining us today.

VIJAY PRASHAD: Thanks a lot.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.


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