By Jack Rosen
As Iranians take to the streets and the international community looks on nervously, President Trump is facing a crucial turning point on Iran.
Last October, he took a decisive step back from the nuclear agreement, which he has famously branded the “worst deal ever.”
This week, for the first time since then, the President must decide whether to continue both certifying the deal and waiving sanctions against Tehran.
The time has come for Trump to hold Iran to account. However, the task is complex. The process extends far beyond the end of this week. It will require Trump to create a unity of purpose both at home and abroad that has so far been lacking. But it can and must be done.
The first challenge for the President is to turn the existing nuclear agreement from a decade-long arrangement into a permanent deal, removing the so-called “sunset clause.”
The second is to see the deal curb Iran’s ballistic missile development, which also poses a serious threat to regional stability. Such changes will give real purpose to a deal which currently guarantees nothing.
The Obama administration hoped that by signing a deeply flawed agreement and waiving crippling economic sanctions, it could bring Iran in from the cold, and strengthen the regime’s moderates on the way to bringing stability to the wider region.
This plan has clearly and demonstrably failed. Since Washington and five fellow Western powers signed the nuclear deal in 2015, Iran has increasingly sown chaos in the region.
Tehran’s fingerprints are all over the Middle East’s bloodiest conflicts from Syria to Yemen and beyond. Unencumbered by sanctions, Tehran continues to spread terror across the region.
Meanwhile, the Iranian people have once again taken to the streets in wide scale protest against the Islamic Republic’s authoritarian rulers, who have not hesitated to brutally suppress their voice.
The crux of these public demonstrations is a disillusionment over continued price rises and economic hardship at home, while vital resources are funnelled towards bankrolling President Assad, Hezbollah, Houthi rebels and others to fight wars abroad.
The demonstrations have been a reminder that large swathes of the Iranian public are increasingly frustrated by a regime that seeks to isolate them from the international community and damaging economic progress, thereby depriving the people of a future.