The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal, is a landmark diplomatic agreement that aims at preventing Iran from building nuclear weapons. This agreement, finalized during the Obama administration, has been a target for Donald Trump since his 2016 campaign. Trump has repeatedly made claims that it is one of the worst deals that the United States has ever made and vowed to end it. It looks like he will finally have his chance.
The Iran deal was an agreement that would lift devastating economic sanctions on Iran in return for imposing strict limitations on the country’s nuclear program. The deal was made between Iran and the United States, UK, Russia, France, China and Germany.
The specifics of the deal get pretty in the weeds, given that it is all geopolitical nuclear physics, but the deal basically breaks down into four main parts: uranium, enrichment, centrifuges and inspections.
The first part of the deal is that Iran was forced to give up 97 percent of its supply of uranium, reducing its holdings down to less than 300 kilograms .
The second part is the enrichment restrictions. The deal states that of that 300 kilograms , Iran is not allowed to enrich it to more than 3.67 percent. For comparison, research grade uranium is enriched to 20 percent and weapons grade is enriched to 90 percent.
The third part is centrifuges. Centrifuges are what would allow Iran to enrich their uranium. The deal has Iran giving up most of their centrifuges, going from 20,000 to 5,000.
The last and most important part of the deal is the inspections. The deal has inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a nuclear watchdog organization, continuously monitor Iran for signs of covert weapons development.
While the deal had some critics in the beginning who said that it wasn’t strong enough and the United States was giving up too much, the general consensus now is that the deal worked and that Iran is living up to its terms. This, however, doesn’t seem to matter to Donald Trump.
Even though the IAEA have repeatedly affirmed that Iran is satisfying the terms of the agreement, Donald Trump still isn’t happy. Trump stated that Iran is violating the “spirit of the agreement.” Trump is likely referring to the continued testing of non-nuclear ballistic missiles and the continuation of Iran’s terrorist funding activities.
The reason for Trump’s disdain of the deal isn’t clear. First, if Trump really cares about Iran’s funding of terrorist activity, then he should be more harsh towards Saudi Arabia, who is the largest sponsor of terrorism around the world. Second, the ballistic missiles that Trump cited as proof of the failure of the nuclear deal were from a fake video on Twitter.
The only reason that Trump wants to torpedo this deal is because it was an important accomplishment by the Obama administration. Trump’s obsession with the destruction of all that Obama has done is becoming increasingly dangerous. If the Iran Nuclear Deal falls through, or Iran even suspects that the United States is not honoring the deal, there could be a high likelihood of a nuclear-armed Middle Eastern conflict.