It’s a win for his advisers and US allies.
President Trump had his best chance to kill the Iran nuclear deal that he’s been attacking for nearly two years — and it looks like he’s going to let it live.
Trump has to decide by Friday whether to reimpose the sanctions that had been slapped on Iran several years ago because of its nuclear program. According to the Associated Press, he’s not going to. That means the deal will remain intact.
It’s in some ways a surprising decision for Trump, who late last year declared that the deal wasn’t in the national security interests of the US. It represents a major win for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other top aides, who have spent months lobbying the president to preserve the deal. And it prevents what could have been a nasty fight with America’s closest allies, who believe the deal is working and have made clear that the US would stand alone if Trump pulled out of it.
At issue are old, currently suspended, US sanctions that were placed on Iran before the 2015 nuclear deal, which crippled Iran’s economy by freezing Iran’s central bank out of the international financial system. They also punished foreign countries’ companies and banks for doing business with Iran, by forcing them to choose between doing business with the US or Iran.
Reimposing the sanctions would have effectively taken the US out of the nuclear deal, and Iran could then take that as a green light to resume its nuclear activities that were banned by the agreement. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last spring that Iran is “completely ready” to restart its nuclear program if the US didn’t hold up its end of the deal.