A journalist from Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) contacted me for a few comments about the Iran nuclear agreement–known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). His first question was whether this was a bad deal for Iranians. The second was regarding the threat of the US terminating the agreement. This was my reply:
I can see arguments both ways: that the JCPOA has its merits for Iran and was a good deal to make; or that it required effectively surrendering rights under threat of violence and represents capitulation. Both arguments have merits. On one hand, the Iranian government can be credited with achieving some relief from Washington’s policy of collectively punishing the civilian population of Iran. On the other, it can at the same time be faulted for making concessions that Iran was under no legal obligation to make. I do not have an opinion on which view is the correct one. I figure it’s up for the Iranian people to decide whether the JCPOA was a good deal or not. I’m just an observer.
As for the threat of the US Congress terminating Washington’s commitment to uphold its end of the bargain, I think it is oversensationalized. That the executive branch of government—not Congress—is responsible for making treaties is the traditional view, and I don’t think this tradition is at risk of being greatly upset. Regarding the view that if one of the Republican candidates was elected president, they would end the US’s commitment to the JCPOA, I also don’t think this is very likely. Politicians say a lot of things to get elected. However, this does not mean that the US should be trusted. The US government is completely untrustworthy. The best strategy for Iran is to do everything to ensure transparency and compliance with its obligations under international law so that it is Washington that ends up violating the JCPOA, and so that when Washington lies and claims that Iran broke the deal, everyone will see right through it.