Trump Admin’s Doomed Effort to Trigger JCPOA ‘Snapback’ Underscores Total Failure of ‘Maximum Pressure’ Iran Policy

August 20, 2020

J Street’s Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams released the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s attempt to trigger the JCPOA’s snapback mechanism at the United Nations today:

Today’s announcement by Secretary of State Pompeo was just the latest damning evidence of this administration’s fecklessness and bad faith in the international arena. Over two years after President Trump’s destructive decision to formally ‘end the participation of the United States in the JCPOA,’ he and Pompeo are now absurdly pretending that they have the authority to trigger the snapback clause of an agreement which they no longer participate in or abide by. 

If their efforts succeed, they would fully reimpose previous multilateral constraints on Iran lifted under the Iran nuclear deal — formally killing the agreement. Such a reckless move would not only significantly escalate the current crisis and further isolate the United States, but make it even more difficult for a new American administration to restore the JCPOA and the prospects for further diplomacy. Fortunately, the other parties to the agreement, the Security Council and the rest of the international community are very unlikely to go along with this latest ploy to provoke further conflict. Yet it’s incredibly damning that the Trump administration continues to act in this belligerent, hypocritical and ultimately ineffective fashion on the world stage. 

The administration’s sabotaging of diplomacy with Iran has led to this point — a self-inflicted security crisis presenting a host of dangers to the United States and our partners. Thanks to ‘maximum pressure,’ Iran is no longer fully complying with the agreement that had successfully blocked its pathways to a nuclear weapon, and its hardliners are emboldened and operating with a freer hand. US troops in the region have been subjected to bombardment by Iranian missiles and key allies like Israel face increasing threats from Iran and its proxies near their borders. The international consensus achieved during the Obama administration has been shattered to the point that we are unable to find agreement with European allies – let alone Russia and China – to jointly address Iran’s conventional arms activities. The president’s Iran policies have made our country less safe and brought us closer to the prospect of another disastrous and unnecessary war in the Middle East. 

It is essential to re-establishing US credibility and the international consensus regarding Iran’s dangerous activities – both nuclear and conventional – for the United States to come back into compliance with the JCPOA alongside Iran. Lawmakers should make clear that they strongly oppose the attempt by the Trump administration to trigger snapback and believe that it has no standing to do so. They should stand with former Vice President Joe Biden against Trump’s disastrous moves and in favor of renewed diplomatic engagement with Iran.

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