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Trump Signals Willingness to Negotiate With Iran

             8/8/2018

President Trump and President Hassan Rouhani

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The President of Iran has signaled his willingness to negotiate with US President Donald Trump to undo the West’s stalwart economic sanctions and de-escalate the threat of military conflict. Iran and the US have repeatedly been at odds since the Carter Administration, and the threat of yet another costly Iraq-like invasion has been looming.

President Hassan Rouhani was interviewed on Iranian state television stating, “Iran has always welcomed dialogue and negotiations.” He stated the talks could begin “right now” if the US is willing. However, he then clarified that by “willing” he meant the US would have to first make a show of good faith and lift its sanctions before talks could begin. He justified that condition by making a metaphor: “if somebody puts a knife in its enemy’s arm and says we want to negotiate, the answer is that they must first pull out the knife and then come to the negotiation table.” It’s unclear whether or not these statements should be given a benefit of the doubt since they came right at the time that the US government renewed its sanctions against the regime.

President Trump already set the precedent by his historic meeting with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un in order to work towards a peace and denuclearization agreement. There have been varying degrees of economic sanctions against Iran ever since the revolution and hostage crisis of 1979. Since then, the US has historically taken measures to stop Iran from acquiring any equipment that might help them enrich uranium due to a lack of trust in their government’s word they will not pursue nuclear weapons.

Sanctions were briefly overturned during the Obama Administration, when the United Nations world powers, including the US, agreed to lift sanctions if UN inspectors are allowed to monitor their civilian nuclear reactors and make sure no weapons are being built. The deal was criticized by many on the American Right because enforcement of the deal was poor and easily circumvented, and Iran would receive tens of billions of dollars’ worth of frozen financial assets. The US backed out of the deal on May 8th, choosing instead to renew their sanctions.

President Rouhani additionally voiced his concerns that Trump would be unreliable. Even though Trump met with Kim, he also backed out of previous international commitments such as the Paris Climate Accord. This was an argument of the Left that the United States had to maintain its international trustworthiness for countries to make any agreements with them.

President Trump will have to re-establish the US’s reputation that it will adhere to its commitments. He can temporarily justify his rollbacks of previous commitments by asserting from here on out the US will only accept deals in their own best interests, but the shifting, divided nature of American politics means that a President’s word is only as good as their election.

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