Trump withdrew from the Iran deal stating "It was a bad deal. Worst deal in history."

France, Germany and the UK have said they "regret" the American decision. The foreign ministry of Russia, another signatory, said it was "deeply disappointed".

The European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU was "determined to preserve" the deal.

The United Nations secretary general's spokesman said Antonio Guterres was "deeply concerned" at the announcement and called on the other signatories to abide by their commitments.

Iran has stated the would resume their nuclear program if a deal was not met. To this, Trump responded:

"I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program," Trump told reporters at the start of a Cabinet meeting when asked about the potential consequences. "I would advise them very strongly. If they do there will be very severe consequence."

Can the Iran deal still be salvaged by other western nations?

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    I'm going to guess this question is getting close votes due to the high probability of speculative answers. Consider changing the name to something more definite like: "What are the advantages for Iran in preserving the nuclear deal?" – armatita May 14 '18 at 9:26

The trade volume between Iran and the US is negligible compared to that between Iran and the other JCPOA parties. So whether or not the US embargoes Iran doesn't really matter. It's mostly a symbolic gesture. The important questions for the future of the JCPOA are:

  • Are the US able and willing to impose secondary sanctions on the EU when they refuse to withdraw from the JCPOA? The US government could mandate that US companies are no longer allowed to do business with foreign companies which also do business with Iran. This would force companies to choose between the Iranian and the US market, and if most choose the US, it would cause a de-facto worldwide embargo on Iran.
  • Can the Iranian nationalists be convinced to not make a serious deal out of the US withdrawal and not convince the Iranian government to cancel the agreement from their side?
  • Will the US and Iran's regional rivals refrain from aggression towards Iran which could convince Iran that they need nuclear weapons to protect themselves against an invasion?
  • Or on the positive side: Is there a possibility to get everyone to agree to a new JCPOA which is similar enough to preserve it in spirit yet different enough that Trump can say he fulfilled his election promise to "renegotiate the Iran deal"?

But these questions can not be answered at the moment. Time will tell.

  • I'm afraid it is much more difficult. Europeans or CHinese companies who trade with Iran can now face retaliations from the US administration (and losing access to the US market is too high a price for reaching the Iran market) and even by US courts (for any operation involving Iran using US$). – Evargalo May 15 '18 at 11:24
  • @Evargalo That's what I meant with "secondary sanctions" in my first bullet point. I wrote a bit more about it to clarify what it means. – Philipp May 15 '18 at 11:29

Which I don't see why they wouldn't if the US doesn't hold their end of the deal.

Two reasons.

  1. The United States might take additional actions. For example, Saudi Arabia has recommended that the US take military action against Iran.

  2. US sanctions don't prevent Iran from doing business with European countries in Euro-denominated transactions with companies that do not also do business in the US. But European sanctions would. So Iran may well choose to continue trading with Europe and avoid a nuclear program. I.e. the European sanctions that it avoids may be enough to support a deal.

    Remember, it's a multilateral deal. And basically Iran is on one side and everyone else is on the other. Even without the US, European participation may be more valuable to Iran than leaving the deal.

It's unclear what Russia and China might do if Iran resumed its nuclear program. But Europe is still participating in the deal, which was no sanctions for no nuclear program. Europe has some leverage if Iran would leave the deal, as their sanctions have more direct effect on Iran. Europe buys Iranian oil and sells them things they need, like food, medicine, and electronics.

China might trade such things for oil, but China isn't necessarily a good source for everything that Iran needs. That might leave Iran vulnerable to the same kind of problems that North Korea has been experiencing. North Korea trades coal to China.

  • The figure in this article by Forbes shows that trade between Iran and US is a percent of the trade between Iran and EU forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/05/08/…. Therefore US leaving the deal will have minimal impact on the deal compared to EU. – Communisty May 14 '18 at 12:15
  • It's slightly speculative that the EU will accept US sanctions of EU companies. Slightly, because the EU has a history of submissive behavior in such matters, but the EU could tell the US that any sanctions against EU companies would be retaliated by equal sanctions against US companies. Specifically sanctions against companies in swing states. – MSalters May 14 '18 at 16:51
  • The whole notion of "do as I say or we will invade" is becoming more acceptable in the west and just adds to list of why they want these weapons. – Noah May 14 '18 at 23:45

At present, Iran is remaining in the JCPOA as a partner with the European Union. From Trump's point of view, at least in the short run, he is getting the best of both worlds. Iran is still theoretically limited by the JCPOA (though it is debatable just how much this actually limits Iran, as the limits on uranium enrichment will sunset), and Trump can sanction Iran.

However, it is entirely reasonable to question whether this state of affairs will last. Trump is warning the Iranians not to resume their nuclear program. By remaining in the deal, assuming they don't cheat, the Iranians are heeding the warning for now. Whether they will continue to do so is anyone's guess.

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    One thing worth pointing out here is that trade embargoes are a lose/lose situation. Both countries' economies suffer from not being able to trade with each other. There is little point in imposing trade sanctions on someone to force them to do something they would be doing anyway. While sanctioning Iran for no good reason looks good for Trump personally (he fulfills his election promise to be tough on Iran), it's not good for the US. – Philipp May 15 '18 at 8:05

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