Iran Deal Decertification: The Seinfeld Scenario
TV’s Seinfeld was famously a show about nothing. What if President Donald Trump’s decertification of the Iran nuclear deal produces no results?
It’s not all that farfetched. So far all the president has done is refuse to certify that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, a.k.a, the Iran nuclear deal) is in the security interests of the United States. Trump could arguably pull the US out of the deal altogether, but he hasn’t done that yet.
News reports indicate Trump’s move was a ploy to get the JCPOA parties back to the table to negotiate a better deal. But all indications are that those parties—which include China, Russia, and the European Union—have no intention to go along with that. They’re going to do everything in their power to keep JCPOA going, especially since it is virtually undisputed—even by the Trump administration—that Iran has not violated the deal.
With or without a pullout by Trump, Congress could impose additional nuclear sanctions on Iran. That would likely be viewed by the parties—and the world—as a violation of the Iran nuclear deal.
Or, Congress might pass on the opportunity to impose fresh sanctions. Several prominent opponents of the deal when it was before Congress have announced their opposition to any tinkering with the accord at this time.
And what if Congress did pass new sanctions, with the aim of squeezing the Iranian economy by targeting the country’s banks? They’re not going to work unless the rest of the world goes along with them, in which case they will have little to no effect.
Trump’s pronouncements on Iran may have made headlines. But they’re likely directed more toward his domestic political base than any overseas actors. At the end of the day, Trump may be, in the words of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “full of sound and fury,” but, like the sitcom Seinfeld, those words may be “signifying nothing.”