President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal that prevents Iran from immediately being able to develop nuclear weapons on May 8.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or more commonly known as, the Iran nuclear deal, was signed under the Obama administration in 2015 by the United States and Iran along with Germany, France, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union, according to the U.S. State Department.
The deal revolves around Iran not seeking to develop nuclear weapons for 10 years and in return, the United States and other countries involved lifting trade, technology, energy and financial sanctions.
As part of the deal, Iran agreed to halt nuclear production for 10 years, close thousands of nuclear facilities, decrease uranium by 98 percent for the next 15 years as well as keep the enrichment of remaining uranium to far below weapons grade, according to BBC.
The deal allows the sitting U.S. president the ability to make a decision every 120 days to either reinstate sanctions against Iran — a move that would virtually dissolve the entire deal — or continue to waive them, according to The New York Times.
Trump last waived these sanctions on Jan. 12, according to an official statement released by the White House.
In the statement Trump said, “Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. …This is the last chance.”
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has cited several key issues Iran has not addressed as reasons he will no longer support the deal, such as their hostile involvement with nearby countries, their ballistic missile testing, their support of terrorist organization Hezbollah and the possibility of Iran being able to make nuclear weapons again once parts of the deal expire, according to Reuters.
Trump has promised that he can utilize his business negotiating skills to broker a better deal, according to Politico. Many Americans are supportive of the Trump administration taking a tougher stance on foreign policy. Others worry that trying to broker a new deal might result in no deal at all and fear the precedent it might set for future negotiations.
These concerns are shared by the Iranian government, as illustrated in an NPR interview with Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister. “I think the United States doesn’t want to send a message to the world that if you negotiate with the United States, the U.S. is going to come back, after you had reached an agreement, and tell you … ‘Whatever I gave you, I want back,’” Zarif said.
This concern is especially timely since Trump is set to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un later this year to discuss denuclearization.
According to The Hill, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said that North Korea may see Trump pulling out of the Iran deal as an indication that promises made by the United States are not credible or legitimate.
A worry many Americans share concerning the Iran deal is the threat of nuclear war or a foreign power who is a nuclear threat. Neal Carter, a political science professor, said that Americans and specifically BYU-I students should be very invested and concerned about the outcome of this deal.
“The capacity of a nuclear weapon to destroy is just so incredible, and to have more of those being wielded by a state that we don’t trust — that is a scary thing,” Carter said.
Some students disagree. Gideon Miles, a junior studying political science, said he is fine with countries having nuclear power.
“If another state had nuclear power I’d be OK with it … because we’ve never actually had any nuclear strikes in history,” Miles said.
In late April, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House urging Trump to remain in the deal and not reinstate sanctions against Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal.
According to CBS News, Trump announced from the White House Diplomatic Room that the U.S. was withdrawing from the deal. This means the U.S. will start implementing sanctions immediately after the withdrawal.
Trump said, on May 8, that Iran is close to making a nuclear bomb. However, the only way that was possible is if Iran broke the terms of the deal and according to the U.S. State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency — the UN’s nuclear watchdog — Iran has complied with the deal.
Other members of the Iran nuclear deal have mentioned a desire to keep the deal without the U.S. According to Politifact, Iranian leaders responded by saying Iran will stay in the deal if they can get enough guarantees from the other members of the agreement.