What could be Trump's possible options on Iran nuclear deal?

WION Web Team Delhi, India May 08, 2018, 06.18 AM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( AFP )

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The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is in compliance with the agreement

US President Donald Trump will decide the future of the Iran nuclear deal today. Signed in the year 2015, between Iran and P5+1 countries (China, Russia, France, United States, Germany and the UK) in Vienna, the accord called for Iran to accept restraints on its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of UN, European and US nuclear-related economic sanctions. 

As per the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate its stock of medium-enriched and low-enriched uranium and exercise strict control over its uranium-enrichment activities. The country also agreed to reduce the number of its gas centrifuges by about two-thirds for 13 years. 

The deal gave the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. 

Time and again, the US President has threatened to pull out of the deal. Countries like Germany and France have been trying to persuade Donald Trump not to scrap the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron stated that calling off the JCPOA "would open the Pandora’s box. There could be war".

On 30 April 2018, the United States and Israel announced that Iran violated one of the clauses stated in the 2015 agreement which required the country to disclose a past covert nuclear weapons program to the IAEA.

While all eyes are set on Trump's announcement on JCPOA today, here are four possible avenues he could take on the fate of the 2015 deal.

Trump could claim that Iran is not living up to the deal by pointing to last week’s revelation by Israel of what it said was evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons programme, most of which was already known to the international community and UN nuclear inspectors.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran is in compliance with the agreement. While senior US officials acknowledge that Iran has complied with the letter of the accord, Trump points to Iran's ballistic missile activity and regional conduct as evidence of the deal's shortcomings.

Scenario 1: Trump re-issues sanctions waivers

Trump could waive US sanctions on Iran’s central bank and oil exports – as he has done every four months – while continuing talks with Germany, France and Britain on a side agreement that addresses what he sees as the deal's flaws. 

Scenario 2: Trump does not waive sanctions

Trump could decide not to waive the US sanctions, under which the penalties would take effect 180 days later, and leave it to European allies – who favour preserving the deal - to decide on their own course of action. In this scenario, Iran would have to decide whether it will continue to abide by the accord's restrictions on its nuclear programme.

Scenario 3: Trump doesn't waive sanctions, but could reconsider

Trump could decide not to waive sanctions, but announce that he could restore the waivers before the penalties for violating the sanctions go back into effect if European allies reach a side agreement with the United States. Again, it would be Iran’s choice whether to continue abiding by the deal in the meantime.

Scenario 4: Trump doesn't waive sanctions and says Iran violating the deal

Trump could announce that he will not waive the sanctions, and, citing the purported evidence revealed by Israel, claim that Iran is violating the deal. The United States could then use a dispute resolution mechanism laid out in the JCPOA to seek a “snap-back” of UN sanctions on Iran.