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DEBATE: Decertification of the Iran Deal – What Happens Next?

Behnam Ben Taleblu
24th November 2017 - Quoted by George N. Tzogopoulos - BESA Center

The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies is pleased to launch a new series of online debates on key strategic issues with the participation of leading scholars from all over the world.

Debates will be moderated by BESA non-resident senior associate George N. Tzogopoulos.

Q: Will the decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Iran nuclear agreement by US President Donald Trump pave the way to fixing it?

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Behnam Ben Taleblu, Senior Iran Analyst, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), Washington, DC

In short, yes. Decertification is a policy tool that aims to accomplish two objectives. Taken together, these objectives “pave the way to fix” the JCPOA nuclear deal. The impetus to improve the JCPOA is grounded in an understanding that if left alone, the accord will facilitate a dramatic expansion of Tehran’s nuclear program over time. This could easily obscure any weapons dimensions/aspirations.

First, as a highly public move, decertification signals to the international community a willingness to run risks to attain a deal that provides the necessary level of transparency into Iran’s nuclear program.

Second, decertification means that Washington will no longer turn a blind eye to Tehran’s poor record of deal implementation. So long as Iran believes the US will not enforce the deal, it will have no incentive to curb its incremental cheating. Iran has already transgressed heavy water restrictions, refused inspections of military sites, pushed the envelope on centrifuge research, and flight-tested multiple nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Coupled with increased non-nuclear economic pressure, decertification is intended to make Tehran realize that Washington is serious about denying it all pathways to a nuclear weapon, and the only off-ramp is adherence to a more comprehensive accord.

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iran-nuclear-deal