WASHINGTON — This Sunday, July 14, marks the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
The first two years of the agreement included key steps by Iran to restrict its nuclear capabilities, including reducing its uranium stockpile by 98%, removing the core of a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, and removing all but a handful of uranium enrichment equipment. Despite Iran’s certified compliance with the agreement, President Donald Trump announced last year the United States would violate the terms of the JCPOA by reimposing economic sanctions against Iran. Instead of producing a new, better nuclear deal as Trump has indicated is the goal of his approach, tensions in the region have escalated and Iran has begun to increase its nuclear capabilities beyond the limits agreed to in 2015.
Marking the fourth anniversary of the JCPOA, Derek Johnson, executive director of the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of all nuclear weapons, issued the following statement:
“Four years after a diplomatic breakthrough that rolled back Iran’s nuclear program and averted war in the Middle East, President Trump’s actions have created a dangerous situation that’s as alarming as it is frustrating. There is now, again, a very real danger that the United States and Iran will stumble into armed conflict — a situation that would not exist had America stuck to its end of the nuclear deal.
“It’s difficult to make sense of how we got here because it makes no sense. After years of tough negotiations and hard-fought diplomacy, Iran drastically reduced its stockpile of nuclear material, dismantled major parts of its nuclear program, and submitted to the most intrusive permanent inspection regime ever negotiated. Iran’s swift and full compliance with the deal was verified and accepted by the International Atomic Energy Association, the UN watchdog with inspectors on the ground; by the US intelligence community; and by the governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the European Union, Russia, and China.
“Today, the situation between the United States and Iran is volatile. Tehran is taking the first small steps toward recreating its pre-2015 nuclear program following Washington’s violations of the deal. America is now at odds not only with Iran, but with its closest European allies — who continue to support the JCPOA. Meanwhile, we are grappling with multiple nuclear flashpoints in other corners of the world, making it all the more urgent that the United States work constructively to prevent a new flashpoint from developing in the Middle East. Reigniting the Iranian nuclear crisis makes America, and the world, less safe and less secure.
“Trump’s handling of Iran is a slow-motion trainwreck that defies all reason. If your goal is to restrict Iran’s enrichment activities and prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons, it’s hard to imagine a worse approach than tearing up the agreement that did precisely that. Looking at what’s happened over the past year, it’s impossible to find upsides to abandoning the Iran deal. If this administration can’t come to its senses, bring the US back into compliance with the agreement, and begin to build from there — then it will be up to the remaining parties of the JCPOA to exercise resiliency, and in Iran’s case restraint, until a new administration moves into the White House.”