Last week President Trump took the dangerous action of declining to certify a critical nuclear agreement with Iran, setting our nation and the world on a dangerous path toward further tension in our international relations.
The agreement reached in October 2015, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided sanctions relief in exchange for a rigorous inspections regime and heavy strictures on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified several times that the agreement is working, and that Tehran has fully complied with the agreement. Other nations in the agreement, which includes China, Russia, the UK, France and Germany, have also affirmed its effectiveness and their intent to remain in the deal. Even Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has suggested that the deal is in U.S. national security interests.
The consensus is that the Iran deal is working and the US and the Middle East region are safer because of it.
President Trump’s action to decertify the agreement now puts the ball in Congress’s court. They must decide whether to uphold the terms of the deal or reimpose economic sanctions Doing so would isolate the US from its European allies, undermine the agreement, and could lead to an unchecked Iranian nuclear program. It would most certainly result in a rapid deterioration in the US’s leverage with Iran, a reversion to diplomatic stalemate and hostility between the two countries, and even an increased risk of war with Iran.
As a Just Peace Church, the United Church of Christ advocated for the Iran deal previously and has called for engagement, even friendship, with the people and nation of Iran rather than war. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)’s General Assembly affirmed this agreement at its meeting in July, 2015. Further, both churches have called for U.S. policy in the Middle East to prioritize the protection of human rights rather than simple political expediency (UCC resolution; Disciples resolution). Breaking agreements, and reimposing sanctions will harm the people of Iran, undermine U.S. credibility, further destabilize the Middle East, undercut efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons globally, and lead us away from peace.