Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom
Mindful of the danger, the Trump White House has already dialed back plans to dedicate a session of the U.N. Security Council that Trump himself will chair to the subject of Iran; the meeting will now cover the broader subject of nonproliferation, which could comprise other issues, like North Korea. Officials worried that Trump could appear to be all alone on a Security Council with many members who believe he should not have withdrawn from the nuclear deal.
But Trump’s speech to the General Assembly, set for Sept. 25, will include tough anti-Iran language, an administration official confirmed. And Iran’s behavior is still expected to come up during the U.N. Security Council session Trump will chair, tentatively set for Sept. 26.
Changing the focus of the meeting from Iran to nonproliferation shows that even administration officials recognize how isolated the U.S. is on its Iran policy, but it isn’t going to spare Trump the embarrassing rebukes from other members of the Security Council. In fact, a meeting squarely focused on nonproliferation will make it even easier for other members to emphasize their disagreement with the U.S. over Trump’s decision to renege on the deal. The U.S. can’t renege on the most successful nonproliferation agreement in decades and still be taken seriously when it talks about its commitment to nonproliferation. Trump has shredded whatever credibility the U.S. had on this issue four months ago, and we should expect several other governments to take this opportunity to point that out. Iran won’t be given a chance to respond to Trump at the Council meeting itself now that the agenda has changed, but the U.S. is still going to be just as isolated as before. It will be difficult for other members to ignore that the U.S. is probably just using the issue of nonproliferation as cover to recite its usual list of complaints about Iran.
Our European allies continue to resist the Trump administration’s threats, because they see the dispute as being about much more than Iran or the nuclear deal:
A senior German diplomat told POLITICO that, for Europe, Iran has become a “question of principle” that has as much to do with preserving international norms as it does with reining in the Iranian nuclear threat. European officials are happy to confront the U.S. over Iran at international gatherings, the diplomat said, because they believe Trump can’t rally many people to his defense.
The U.S. is the only party to the JCPOA in violation of the agreement and UNSCR 2231, the resolution that endorsed the nuclear deal. As such, anything our government has to say about nonproliferation or the nuclear deal itself will be dismissed by the other member states, and the administration will just be calling attention to its own costly errors.