So what exactly did Donald Trump announce on Friday with respect to the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran?
Many news outlets were diverted by a focus on whether or not Trump would declare the US withdrawal from the agreement, or at least sweeping sanctions on Tehran. Held back by senior advisors who fear a rift with American allies and Iran’s quick return to production of 20% uranium, Trump did neither: his “decertification” of Iranian compliance kicked the issue across to Congress, to decide within 60 days if it wishes to reimpose the full range of sanctions.
But that did not mention Trump stepped back from confrontation with Iran. To the contrary, he effectively declared war, short of military conflict, across the region. He promised a showdown with Tehran, and its alleged support of “terrorism”, across the Middle East. Specifically, he proclaimed the first US sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a step which is likely to bolster Iranian hardliners and limit any room for maneuver by the centrist Rouhani Government.
Just before the announcement, I spoke with BBC Radio 4’s PM. Afterwards, I took apart Trump’s statement in a chat with Monocle 24’s The Daily.