The political stand-off between Iran and the United States regarding the future of the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015 is continuing on a rocky path that began with President Donald Trump’s administration. His latest push for additional inspections of “suspicious” Iranian military sites was met with mockery from Tehran, setting the stage for Trump’s suspected attempt to wriggle out of the agreement. Iranian officials described the request as a “ridiculous dream that will never come true,” at the same time raising the question of whether the same could be said about the nuclear deal’s stability and implementation.
For a while, it seemed like Trump would not deliver on his electoral promise to “rip up the nuclear deal,” also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which he described as “the worst deal ever signed.” He had plenty of support among the Republicans regarding this position, yet once Trump reached the White House, even the deal’s vocal critics, including Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, recognized that once signed, the agreement had to be upheld.
Yet, months of Washington and Tehran going back and forth on all the things they did not agree on seemed to cloud the administration’s judgment on the only thing they had ever agreed on: the nuclear deal. This is how the conversation on a myriad of issues between the two countries and their opposing interests in the Middle East always circles back to the nuclear deal, even though upholding or breaking it most certainly would not lead to a solution of the conflict.