‘Trump may be persuaded to back the Iran deal’

Jaipur, Jan 23 (IANS) US President Donald Trump, who has virulently called the nuclear agreement with Iran the “worst deal ever negotiated”, may come around supporting it, says an American expert on the Middle East.

“There may be some uncertainty… Trump, who had said it is a bad deal, may be persuaded not to junk it. He may be persuaded by the economic opportunities it may offer… after all he is a businessman,” Robert F. Worth, The New York Times’ former Beirut bureau chief, told IANS on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2017.

During his presidential campaign, Trump, assailing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by Iran and six world powers in 2015 placing significant restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activity, declared that his “number 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal”.

He claimed Iran had outmanoeuvred Washington into concessions and could still develop nuclear arms when the pact’s restrictions expire in 15 years.

However, there has been strong support for the deal and over three dozen top American scientists, including Nobel laureates, veteran nuclear weapon scientists, former White House science advisers and head of the world’s largest general society of scientists, wrote to the new President on Monday, urging him to “preserve this critical US strategic asset” which curbed any Iranian bid for nuclear weaponisation.

On the situation in Iran itself, Worth, the author of “A Rage for Order: The Middle East in Turmoil, from Tahrir Square to ISIS”, said “there was little hope for reformers” in the country and further since the death earlier this month of former President Ayatollah Rafsanjani, who was seen as a moderate and pragmatic leader.

“It will also depends on how the nuclear deal plays out. Even in Iran, there has been great scepticism over it… that the Europe and the US have not come through, there has been little of the promised investment, and all,” he said.

Noting that though there is a presidential election coming up this year, Worth said the future situation also depends on how long the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei remains in power.

“Some of these Ayatollahs can be very long-lived,” he quipped.

(Vikas Datta can be contacted at vikas.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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