On July 14, 2015, the American Iranian Council (AIC) celebrated the signing of the JCPOA as an important day for diplomacy and the international community – a day that demonstrated how diplomacy could achieve what threats and coercion could not. Today, as an organization that has worked for nearly thirty years to promote understanding and dialogue between the U.S. and Iran, the American Iranian Council strongly rejects the Trump administration’s decision to refuse to recertify the JCPOA. The AIC further expresses its deep concern that the Trump administration’s decision will be a “black eye” for diplomacy and the U.S.' reputation around the world. We oppose this action for a variety of reasons, including:
- The fact that Iran has complied with the terms of the JCPOA. The IAEA has repeatedly confirmed Iran’s compliance with the deal, including as recently as August 2017. Top U.S. military and State Department officials have also confirmed that Iran is complying with the deal;
- The JCPOA is not a bilateral agreement with Iran, but a multilateral agreement among the P5+1, which includes important U.S. allies who continue to express their support for the deal. Rejecting it requires that the U.S. oppose its allies on this major international matter;
- Scrapping the JCPOA is a dangerous precedent to set given the need for potentially similar diplomatic negotiations with countries like North Korea; and
- Rejecting the nuclear deal harms U.S. interests: it reduces the U.S.' stature around the world and it replaces the benefits of the deal (such as stability and a non-nuclear Iran) with instability and uncertainty, which could result in Iran pursuing a nuclear weapon or the need for additional US military presence in the region.
While we disagree with the approach President Trump has taken today, the AIC does support one element of President Trump’s speech: that the U.S. needs a broader strategy on Iran. The Council has always maintained that the nuclear issue should not be dealt with in isolation. While we had hoped that the JCPOA would naturally provide future opportunities to pivot from the nuclear issue to other matters in U.S.-Iran relations, today’s move by the Trump administration may present an alternative way forward. The AIC urges the U.S. and Iran to enter into new negotiations – not just on the nuclear matter, but on all issues of concern between the U.S. and Iran, including Iran’s missile program, human rights abuses and its approach to conflicts in the region. While these negotiations proceed, the JCPOA should remain in effect. We believe that such direct talks could prove fruitful if approached with (i) appreciation of realities on the ground, (ii) the recognition of one another as sovereign states with individual interests, and (iii) an eye towards compromise rather than relying on coercion where interests do not align. We outline the path forward in this recent publication.