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Editorial: Iran nuclear deal cannot be allowed to fall apart

  • May 10, 2018
  • , Asahi , p. 16
  • JMH Translation

The international agreement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear development is a historic achievement that represents the fruit of diplomatic efforts. This deal cannot be allowed to collapse.


U.S. President Donald Trump again announced a unilateral and irresponsible decision. He said the U.S. will withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal and reinstate economic sanctions.


The U.S., together with the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia, signed the deal with Iran three years ago when the Obama administration was in office. The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution endorsing this agreement. Thus this is a pledge made by the international community.


The U.S. will repeal this pledge and reignite conflict with Iran. It makes sense that the leaders of the U.K., France and Germany expressed “regret and concern.”


Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is prepared to discuss the preservation of the agreement with the five other countries. His cool-headed response deserves credit.


But if the U.S. reinstatement of sanctions hurts the Iranian economy, the hawks in Iran, who advocate a confrontational approach toward the U.S., may gain influence. They also hint at the possibility of resuming uranium enrichment, depending on the circumstances.


A nuclear crisis must be avoided. The roles of Britain, France and Germany will become essential. They should make use of economic ties with Iran that have deepened since the deal was clinched and support the moderates inside the country. 


The Iranian nuclear agreement is aimed at preventing nuclear proliferation and also designed to serve as a counterweight to prevent a Middle Eastern crisis from threatening global security and the world economy.


Iran drastically cut back its nuclear development program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions by the U.S. and Europe. The International Atomic Energy Agency continues its inspections and confirms that Iran is honoring the agreement.


But if that agreement comes to naught, Israel, which is hostile to Iran, may mount a military action, and competition in nuclear development may accelerate within the Arab world, including Saudi Arabia.


President Trump has been criticizing the agreement by citing “flaws,” such as a time limit on missile development and nuclear regulation. These should be discussed. It makes no sense to repeal the agreement. 


It seems that President Trump made his latest decision by taking into account his pro-Israel supporters in the U.S. There is certainly a loss of trust in U.S. foreign policy as Washington breaks international pledges out of consideration for domestic affairs.


This may also affect ongoing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear issue. Peace will not be built either on the Korean Peninsula or in the Middle East if the U.S. turns its back on international cooperation and acts unilaterally.


How should the international community get President Trump to understand the responsibility and benefits of keeping his country’s foreign policy consistent? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should join the efforts his British, French and German counterparts continue to make to persuade the U.S. leader. The bilateral relationship can’t be called sound just be repeating “Japan and the U.S. stand one hundred percent together.”


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