In a press release, the organization, whose stated mission is “promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies,” said that Trump “dodged a bullet” by waiving sanctions on Iran in accordance with US commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). However, Kelsey Davenport, director of nonproliferation policy, warned that Trump “is setting up the United States to violate it down the road,” noting that “threatening to withhold future sanctions waivers in an attempt to force unilateral changes to the deal is dangerous, jeopardizes the future of the agreement, and creates a schism between the United States and its allies.”
On Friday, Trump announced that he would extend economic sanctions relief to Iran in adherence with the nuclear deal but introduce new sanctions to punish Tehran for alleged human rights abuses and ballistic missile development. He also warned that Washington would pull out of the agreement if its “terrible flaws” weren’t fixed, pressuring the allies to agree to an amended deal.
Thomas Countryman, the chairman of the board of directors of the Arms Control Association and the former US Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation, challenged Trump’s characterization of the deal, pointing out that “the vast majority of nonproliferation and security experts agree that the successful implementation of the JCPOA has effectively neutralized the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapons program.”
Trump has pushed for altering the agreement, which will ease nuclear restrictions on Iran over the next decade if Tehran honors its commitments under the deal. The Arms Control Association says that, were Washington to permanently deprive Iran of a nuclear program, it would be a direct violation of the JCPOA.
“Legislative efforts by the US Congress that automatically reimpose sanctions if Iran does not indefinitely abide by core nuclear restrictions that the JCPOA phases out over time would violate the accord and are strongly opposed by Washington’s negotiating partners,” Davenport said. “In the weeks ahead, the administration and the Congress must refrain from imposing new sanctions that violate the JCPOA or seek to unilaterally alter the nuclear restrictions on Iran,” she added.
The JCPOA was signed by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US, and the EU. As part of the deal some economic sanctions against Iran were lifted in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program over a period of 15 to 25 years.