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Iran-US relations set for a rocky road ahead

President Trump’s travel ban, which is currently suspended, included Iran. There are a large number of Iranians in the US – many of whom are students – who are affected by this. They are also very concerned. They have a wide range of backgrounds – LGBT, academics, people visiting family, refugees, etc. and they are effectively trapped either inside or outside of the US. 

The American public is also concerned. It wants to know if Trump will deliver on his promises regarding scrapping the nuclear deal and tripling sanctions against Iran.

Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “disastrous” and vowed to scrap it. However, it is looking unlikely that the deal will be scrapped as promised. Secretary of Defence James Mattis said last month: “I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement. But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it.”

It is more likely that the deal will be strengthened and reinforced. The former White House Co-ordinator for Arms Control in Obama’s administration said: “But they will quickly find out any renegotiation of the agreement will require the US to offer additional sanctions relief.”

Furthermore, if President Trump decides to pull out of the deal, he is letting the other signatories of the deal down – the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China. He would also not be able to easily issue further sanctions on Iran. 

Nader Hashemi from the Centre for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver advises that there are other ways to deal with Iran and the nuclear deal. He said: “I suspect Trump will try to strictly enforce the nuclear deal, hoping that Iran will break the agreement and thus be blamed internationally for it.”

Iran has been relatively quiet regarding the fuss being made in Washington. There have been several public comments made – for example, on Twitter last month Khamenei said: “We appreciate Trump! Because he largely did the job for us in revealing true face of America.”

Some of the leaders in Iran also believe that it will be advantageous for the country to be dealing with President Trump – they see him as a non-conventional president, but first and foremost a businessman who they will be able to negotiate with. 

The current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, is more concerned about the impact of Trump on the upcoming Iranian elections. Rouhani’s two major goals of improving relations with the US and obtaining the nuclear deal are being overshadowed by President Trump’s recent rhetoric. His opponents will certainly use this to defeat him. 

Relations between Iran and the US will also be under scrutiny in the next few months. Both countries are supporting forces from Iraq in its attempt to recapture Mosul from Islamic State. Furthermore, Trump has promised to repair relations with Russia – something which could have a major impact on its relationship with Iran and something that Iran is deeply concerned about.  

The most important move going forward is for the United States to be firm with Iran and keep the upper hand. 


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