Trump’s JCPOA withdrawal ‘one of the dumbest, most dangerous’ foreign policy decisions: US senator

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
In this file photo, taken on January 20, 2021, outgoing US President Donald Trump addresses guests at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. (By AFP)

US Senator Chris Murphy says former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran agreement will go down as one of the dumbest, most dangerous foreign policy decisions of the last fifty years.

Murphy made the comment in a tweet on Sunday, invoking a graph illustrating the rapid growth of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile in the aftermath of the US withdrawal.

“Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA … will go down as one of the dumbest, most dangerous foreign policy decisions of the last fifty years,” he wrote, using the official acronym of the 2015 deal, that is, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, has been a vocal critic of Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA and his sanctions on Iran. He has urged US President Joe Biden to reverse his predecessor’s Iran policy and rejoin the nuclear pact.

Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the JCPOA in 2018 and unleashed the “toughest ever” economic sanctions against Iran.

Iran initially refused to take reciprocal actions as stipulated under the JCPOA, giving diplomacy a chance, but after an entire year of strategic patience, it finally began to advance its nuclear program beyond the limits set by the deal.

Talks have been underway for almost ten months under Biden, who had vowed to undo Trump’s Iran policy and re-enter the nuclear agreement.

In the course of the negotiations, held in Vienna, the Islamic Republic has maintained that the removal of US sanctions must happen in practice and that it seeks guarantees that the US will not leave the deal again.

In a recent interview, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stated, “We demand guarantees that include not imposing any new sanctions, and not reimposing sanctions after removing them under any pretext.”

US team in disarray?

In a report on Saturday, NBC News said that the US negotiating team in Vienna has recently changed, with one key member, Richard Nephew, leaving to return to a different role at the State Department.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, NBC reported that Nephew and US Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley, who leads the US team, had a disagreement over the direction of the talks.

A State Department official said in a statement, “Richard Nephew made important contributions to the team, where he served for nearly a year. He remains with the Department of State.”

Biden appointed Nephew, the infamous architect of sanctions against Iran under Barack Obama, as his deputy special envoy for Iran early last year. At the time, his appointment was widely criticized in the Iranian press.

The US has warned recently that there were “only a few weeks left” to save the 2015 deal, threatening Iran with “other options” – which alludes to a possible military action – if an agreement is not reached in Vienna.

Last Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the US better focus on its Plan A rather than threatening Iran with a Plan B.

Iran has not allowed the US to attend the Vienna negotiations due to its withdrawal from the JCPOA. As a result, the other participants are conducting shuffle diplomacy between the two sides.

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