WASHINGTON – NIAC President Jamal Abdi issued the following statement on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s forthcoming decision to seek snapback of all UN sanctions on Iran:
When the U.S. struck the nuclear accord with Iran in 2015, it was celebrated by the Iranian people who wanted an end to U.S. sanctions on the country and tarnished by hardliners who warned the U.S. could never be trusted to comply. The Trump administration’s actions have consistently victimized the Iranian people by undermining their hopes and dreams, while vindicating hardliners who have subsequently urged a confrontational position toward the United States. It is a profound tragedy, and one that was entirely avoidable if we had a President who wasn’t driven by sabotaging his predecessor’s achievements.
Nothing about this situation is normal. The U.S. loudly withdrew from the agreement and violated all its clauses, claiming that it ceased participation, but now claims an unalienable right to invoke the agreement’s snapback clause that is reserved for participants in the deal. Where once the U.S. forged consensus in pressuring and then negotiating with Iran, the rest of the Security Council is united against the U.S. to preserve the deal we once crafted. Rather than defend the merits of the administration’s Iran approach and accept the determination of voters this fall, Trump and his team are trying to tear down the agreement before Biden has a chance to restore it.
There are profound risks from what may be the Trump administration’s last, desperate attempt to prevent a Biden administration from following through on the campaign commitment to restore the deal. Iran may follow through and withdraw from the nuclear accord as well as the Non-Proliferation Treaty, escalating the nuclear standoff and precipitating crisis. The functioning of the Security Council will be deeply degraded, poisoning the well for future multilateral diplomacy just when it is needed to combat pandemic and the climate crisis, let alone other urgent geopolitical crises. And U.S. credibility will be tarnished further as its roguish unilateral behavior on the international stage is checked by a unified Russia, China and Europe.
Ultimately, this move is likely to be stalled due to the refusal of adversary and ally alike to recognize and lend any credence to the U.S. snapback attempt. The real outcome will depend on November, when the world knows for sure whether Trump was a foolish one-term mistake or a new reality the U.S. seeks to impose on the world. It will be critically important for a Biden administration to move swiftly to reverse the harm caused by the administration’s reckless Iran mistakes, including the snapback attempt. That will start with returning the U.S. to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, a powerful signal that the U.S. intends to honor its international commitments unlike the current occupant of the White House.