The hardliners in Iran could announce their own intention to withdraw not only from the JCPOA but also from the NPT. They could argue, quite legitimately, that Israel has never come clean on its nuclear arsenal, and that Pakistan and India (and of course Israel) have not signed on to the NPT. So Iran could say that until those three countries sign, it will remain outside the NPT, refuse any inspections, and carry on as it sees fit.
Alternatively, the reformists in Iran could carry the day and insist on continuing with the terms of the JCPOA without the US but with the full cooperation of the Europeans and other peace-loving entities. This could confound the real agenda behind the Trump withdrawal.
The real agenda behind the Trump decision to withdraw – which has made Netanyahu and the Saudis very pleased – is to provoke Iran into a war, something that Israel and Saudi Arabia in particular seem to desire. The war would weaken Iran’s military and thus its influence in the region (in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, among the Houthis) , so as to enable Saudi Arabia and Israel to become top dogs, leaving US hegemony unchallenged and Russia marginalized.
Another part of this agenda is to enable Saudi Arabia to develop its own nuclear capacity and for Israel to continue to strengthen its own. Saudi Arabia has been bombing the heck out of Yemen, with no criticism from the US. Israel has been attacking Syrian sites, again with no criticism from the US; Israel also has been threatening to attack both Iran and Syria. All of this is against international law, but since when does the US respect international law?
Consequently, US global leadership and legitimacy will be at an all-time low, as countries will realize that they cannot trust the US to honor its treaties and international obligations. America’s political system – which seems to enable one president to overturn decisions made by a predecessor – will appear woefully dysfunctional and more like a dictatorship than a mature procedural democracy with established institutions.
In summation, Trump’s decision to withdraw is disgraceful and dangerous. The US., Israel, and Saudi Arabia have created an unholy alliance that is as much a threat to world peace as is the alliance between ISIS and other jihadist groups. As I have argued for about 15 years now, the two main dangers in our contemporary world are US imperialism and Islamist terrorism.
Prof. Valentine Moghadam
Northeastern University and Massachusetts Peace Action board member
May 8, 2018