The Obama-era Iran nuclear deal is officially ka-put in the wake of the U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, driving America, Iran, and the Middle East further into uncertain waters.
According to the Washington Examiner, the Islamic Republic said Sunday that it would no longer honor any limitations on its uranium after the United States killed its top general, completing a deterioration of relations between Washington and Tehran that started with America’s withdrawal from the 2015 agreement in May 2018.
Supporters of the strike on Soleimani have said Iran’s move proves that the regime was never interested in diplomacy with the West, underscoring the need to show strength through force — but critics are concerned about a new and catastrophic Middle Eastern war breaking out.
“IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!” Trump tweeted Monday, apparently in response to the news.
Iran deal goes ka-put
The current crisis can be traced to Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the Iran deal, which was followed by a series of tit-for-tat threats and strikes that culminated in Soleimani’s killing outside of Baghdad’s airport last week. Iranian militiamen had attacked America’s embassy in Baghdad and killed an American contractor before the U.S. killed Soleimani, who the Trump administration said was behind the deaths of hundreds of Americans and plotting yet more butchery.
Supporters of Trump’s decision have said that he is establishing deterrence after some 40 years of unchecked provocations from Iran, unlike President Barack Obama, who Republicans have long criticized for being too soft on the regime. But as the impact of Soleimani’s killing continued to reverberate, Iran announced through state media that it would take a “final step” to withdraw from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the New York Post reported.
“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has in a statement announced its fifth and final step in reducing Iran’s commitments under the JCPOA,” the country’s state TV said Sunday. “The Islamic Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations.”
Iran said that it would continue to cooperate with the U.N.’s watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to Fox News.
For his part, Trump campaigned in 2016 on ending “endless wars” in the Middle East, but he also made ripping up Obama’s deal a priority — and many Republicans have praised his airstrike for putting a stop to Obama’s “soft” approach. But many Democrats, as well as some Republicans and Western leaders, have responded with cautious alarm about a quickly escalating situation in the Middle East.
Iran has vowed to retaliate for the killing of its top general, but so far, the regime has responded with only rhetoric amid three days of public mourning that saw hundreds of thousands of Iranians pour into the streets to mourn the slain general, according to The Hill. Still, Washington and Tehran continued to trade threats through the weekend as members of Iran’s parliament chanted “death to America” and promised revenge against the “terrorist in a suit,” Donald Trump, who in turn warned that America was prepared to attack any of 52 key cultural sites should Iran dare to respond.
Bitter memories of 1979 are clearly casting a shadow; the Trump administration said its threat to target the 52 sites was inspired by the 52 Americans captured in the hostage crisis that consumed Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Democrats, meanwhile, have responded to the Iran situation by decrying Trump’s actions as unilateral and illegal, and they have introduced a resolution to block a potential war. (Republicans have called the resolution hypocritical, citing President Obama’s illegal drone killings of American citizens.)
“They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters on Sunday, according to NBC News.