Trump’s Dangerous Confusion on the Iranian Deal

Trump's Dangerous Confusion on the Iranian Deal

When it comes to the Iranian nuclear deal, the Trump administration is a carnival of contradiction. Its attitude brings to mind the story of the inmates who complained that the prison food was terrible and they weren’t allowed seconds.

In his tirade at the United Nations, the president said the accord is “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” During the campaign, he promised to dismantle it. But eight months after he took office, his administration is still abiding by it.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley insists that Trump “has grounds” to assert that Iran is not complying. But Trump has twice certified that the Tehran regime has upheld its end of the bargain. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged Wednesday that Iran is in “technical compliance” — which is true in the same sense that Tillerson is technically secretary of state.

He had the chance to lay out any violations during a meeting Thursday with his counterparts from the other signatory governments. But European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, who chaired the meeting, said “all agreed” that Iran is complying — including, she stipulated, the United States.

Tillerson, however, is not satisfied just because Iran has done what it agreed to do. He resents that some of the provisions that restrict Iran have expiration dates. But you would think the best thing about a bad agreement is that it doesn’t run forever. You would want the terms to be permanent only if you think it’s desirable.

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The accord is highly desirable because it deprives Iran of the means to build a nuclear weapon for a long time. It forced Iran to shut down most of its centrifuges, surrender 97 percent of…

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