ABU DHABI // The Iran nuclear deal is expected to be among Donald Trump’s foreign policy priorities when he takes office in January.
The deal with the US, China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany and the European Union, under which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief, was bitterly opposed by Republicans in Congress and is viewed with scepticism in the Middle East.
During his election campaign, Mr Trump described the deal as a disaster, and said his number-one priority would be to dismantle it. Later, however, he admitted that it would be difficult to rescind a treaty enshrined in a UN resolution, and said instead that he would “police that contract so tough they don’t have a chance”.
Trends Research and Advisory, a research centre in Abu Dhabi, and the Stimson Centre in Washington DC, held a panel discussion last week addressing concerns and issues facing the Middle East in the wake of the deal. The panel reflected on scenarios in which Iran’s adherence to the deal continued to fall short, and strategies for ensuring the deal brought security to the region.
Experts, policy makers, advisers, analysts, and members of civil society took part in the second event of its kind, titled Balancing a News Relationship with Iran: Security and Insecurity in the Wake of the Nuclear Deal.
Dr Ahmed Al Hamli, president and founder of Trends, emphasised concerns about Iran’s actions in the Arabian Gulf region and its behaviour within the deal.
He said the nuclear deal covered one issue of Iran’s security presence, and said it supported terrorist organisations.
“Iran openly and explicitly supports armed non-state actors, many of whom are on a range of official lists of designated terrorist groups. This behaviour is a direct violation of international law prohibiting states from interfering in the domestic affairs of other states, and is an action contrary to the global efforts to counter terrorism,” said Dr Al Hamli.
He said the US should work closely with its regional allies.
Mark Fitzpatrick, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies – Americas, said Iran’s behaviour had not been significantly different after the deal, and in some ways, the pace of Iran’s missile testing had increased.
However, Laicie Heely, a fellow with Stimson’s budgeting for foreign affairs and defence programme, said the nuclear deal removed the threat of war, and provided 10 years to further negotiations.
“There is a long history of mistrust and overcoming this mistrust is not going to be solved by a nuclear agreement,” she said.