The world was on edge ahead of President Trump’s address to the nation Wednesday. Hours before, Iran had fired a barrage of missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.
For a moment, it looked like escalating U.S.-Iran tensions could produce something more wide-reaching than memes.
But as Trump took to the podium, it quickly became clear that war was not on the agenda. Instead, the Commander-In-Chief struck a relatively diplomatic tone and said:
Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.
Perhaps most significant, Trump also hinted at the prospect of striking a new deal with Iran.
Before we dive into what a new deal could look like, let’s take a step back.
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama spearheaded the move to reach a landmark agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, was essentially a straightforward negotiation between Iran and six world powers – the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. Under the plan, Iran would develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes and in return, the United States would remove economic sanctions on the country.
In the eyes of Democrats, the deal was a major foreign policy achievement. But to some Republicans, it was tantamount to ushering in Armageddon.
Trump has long been a harsh critic of the deal. In 2016, he made repealing it a major part of his election campaign.
According to Trump, the deal was ineffective in making Iran change its behavior, from refusing to release U.S. prisoners to continuing human rights abuses. Trump also slammed the deal for “giving [Iran] billions of dollars” when the United States “should have kept the money.”
In 2018, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the JCPOA. And now, with all-out-war narrowly avoided, the circumstances are ripe for Trump to strike a new agreement – and take a swipe at Obama’s legacy.
During his speech on Wednesday, President Trump expressed support for a new deal with Iran.
Speaking at the White House, he said:
[Members of the JCPOA] must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal… and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.
Trump went on to say he wants a deal that “allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential.”
So what would a new deal look like? At its core, the purpose of the deal would be similar to the current agreement, namely to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. But in contrast, Trump’s new deal would be much tougher on the Iranian regime. In particular, it would likely include less financial aid and stricter measures to punish Iran if it’s found breaking any rules.
Trump was never fond of Obama.
Now, Trump senses the opportunity to strike a new deal with Iran – and overturn Obama’s foreign policy achievement in the process. If successful, Trump will say his military tactics avoided war with Iran and forced parties back to the negotiating table.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:39 PM UTC