By Javad Heirannia

Limbert: Trump can’s do much if unilaterally abandons nuclear deal

December 21, 2016 - 17:14

TEHRAN - John Limbert, the former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran, believes that the new administration of Donald Trump cannot do much against Iran even if it unilaterally decides to withdraw from the international Iran nuclear deal.

“What more can the U.S. do unilaterally?   Not much, it seems to me,” Limbert tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: In his campaigns President-elect Donald Trump claimed the Obama administration had given too concessions to Iran. What do you think he will do when he officially starts his work at the White House?

A: There is a basic issue here, and that is the power of the executive (the president) to make agreements (short of treaties) with foreign governments.   If Trump is to cancel the JCPOA unilaterally he delivers a severe blow to his ability to negotiate such agreements with anyone. Who will negotiate with him knowing that his successor may just cancel the deal. Of course that is the way I think as a professional.  In the case of Trump, however, it's hard to know how much he thinks about such consequences. Whatever else he is, he is clearly not a political scientist.

“The problem is that Trump has no past and no policy record in foreign policy. Just a bunch of tweets and some chest-thumping campaign speeches.”

Q: Trump’s right-hand men are strong opponents of Iran and the nuclear deal, officially called the JCPOA. How much this team can shape Trump’s policy toward Iran?

A: Those in Trump's inner circle hold various unfriendly views toward Iran.  I wonder if it would have been much different if Clinton had won the election.   The person rumored to be her Secretary of State (Stavridis) kept talking about the need to be "tough" with Iran, what that means.

Q: Some argue Trump will not violate the JCPOA but instead introduce sanctions on Iran on charges of human rights violations. If so, how can it affect the future of the JCPOA?

A: If the U.S. puts more unilateral sanctions on Iran related to human rights or other issues, there are two questions.

1) What more can the U.S. do unilaterally?   Not much, it seems to me.

2) Those new sanctions will probably not affect the ability of non-U.S. companies to do business with Iran according to the JCPOA. 

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