In a Sunday interview, French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned President Donald Trump that pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement isn’t a good idea until a better plan is on the table. Because as it stands right now, that table is bare.
There is, he noted, in the interview with Fox News’s Chris Wallace, no current options on the table:
“I don’t have any plan B.”
He also noted that the framework that comes out of this, if the U.S. pulls out, needs to be better than what’s currently going on between the U.S. and North Korea.
“What do you have as a better option?” he asked, pondering the situation.
And it’s a situation worth pondering because as The New York Times notes, Trump has opposed the Iran nuclear agreement for some time.
He criticized the Obama-era agreement as not giving enough attention to Iran’s other activities, such as its ongoing support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, it’s intervention in Yemen’s civil war and the ongoing role of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s Corps in unsettling the region.
On Friday, the White House said that in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. has:
“…Consistently prioritized the immediate threat of Sunni extremist organizations over the long-term threat of Iranian-backed militancy.”
Trump has criticized the nuclear agreement as “the worst deal ever negotiated” and an “embarrassment.” He criticizes the deal as not going far enough to put a stop to the potential development of nuclear weapons within the country and because it doesn’t implement restrictions on missile testing. Trump also claims investigators from the International Atomic Agency, the United Nation’s group that oversees compliance with the agreement don’t have sufficient monitoring powers.
And he’s also not happy that billions of dollars in Iranian currency have been released, saying its a giveaway that has reduced America’s leverage among other nations.
But when this deal was ratified by the Obama administration in 2015, it was years in the making and it mandated that Iran must greatly reduce its dependency on uranium. In effect, Iran was to keep its uranium enrichment levels at no more than 3.6 percent, down from earlier levels of nearly 20 percent, CNN reported.
The agreement also mandated Iran must:
“Maintain a uranium stockpile (at the above prescribed level) under 300 kilograms, well below its current 10,000-kilogram stockpile.”
At that time, President Obama maintained that this reduced Iran’s nuclear stockpile by 98 percent.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the country would also be required, among other things, to:
“‘Design and rebuild a modernized heavy water research reactor in Arak … using fuel enrichment up to 3.6 percent’ after getting international authorities’ OK on the final design.”
“The reactor will support peaceful nuclear research and radioisotope production for medical and instructional purposes,” IRNA reported. The country will not build any other heavy water reactors for the next 15 years.”
There are several other topics covered in the agreement, which you can read in its entirety here.
Earlier this month The Associated Press reported that the Trump administration is preparing to withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear agreement in May. That hasn’t sat well with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Appearing on CBS’s Face The Nation, he blasted Trump for failing to support the agreement.
“Since President Trump has been in office, he has not actually lived up to the deal,” Zarif said. “He has taken, and his administration have taken every measure in order to make sure that Iran does not benefit economically from the deal.”
Zarif added that Iran is already considering resuming some of its former activities.
“We have put a number of options for ourselves and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities.”
So Macron’s concerns at this point are understandable. He is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House beginning Monday in the hopes of changing Trump’s stance on Syria – Trump maintains he wants to withdraw troops as soon as possible, while Macron says this will only encourage ISIS), Mic.com notes. The French president also wants Trump to reconsider his stance on the Paris Climate Accord because he believes it was a mistake for Trump to pull the U.S. out of the historic treaty.
But the Iran nuclear agreement will also be front and center. The Trump administration threatened to pull out of the agreement on May 12, calling it a “bad deal,” unless it is “fixed.” This has led to opposition from three of the five countries who ratified the deal — Britain, Germany, and France, all of whom disagree, saying the agreement must not be changed.
Macron is well aware of Trump’s contentious nature, especially after a handshake between the two men turned rather grabby when Trump seemingly refused to let go when the two men met at a NATO summit last May.
Fortunately, if the tweet below, issued to support the Paris Climate accord, is any indication, Macron isn’t easily swayed.
You can watch Chris Wallace’s interview with Macron in the video below.
Featured Image Via YouTube Video.