The deadline is fast approaching for President Trump to decide yet again whether or not he will stick with the Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions.
We’ve long shared Trump’s distaste for the Obama-era deal, which does nothing to halt Iran’s long-term ability to build nukes, and nothing at all to curb its ballistic-missile development and fostering of violence across the Mideast.
But now the president and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, suggest a compromise may be in the works that would preserve the deal while expanding it to include its critics’ substantive concerns.
We’re skeptical — but glad to see heightened European awareness of the need to maintain maximum pressure on an Iranian regime threatened by domestic crises and mass unrest.
Trump has rightly blasted the deal as “insane” and “ridiculous.” But he said last week he was open to “a new deal,” provided it’s strong enough.
In his address to Congress Wednesday, Macron defended the initial pact — but said “a more comprehensive deal” addressing Trump’s concerns is possible in the context of the “existing framework.”
It’s a big if — for several reasons. For one, Russia and China are sure to block any new UN economic sanctions. Western Europe, too, is desperate to protect its own companies’ ability to trade and invest in Iran.
Moreover, what’s being suggested sounds familiar: They’re the same proposals that have been talked about since last fall, when Trump decertified Iran’s compliance but held off on sanctions.
Trump has two decisions to make: On May 12, he must decide again whether to ask Congress to reimpose sanctions lifted by the accord. By July, he must decide whether to reimpose sanctions that hit a far wider array of economic sectors.
And he’s still holding out the possibility of abandoning the deal entirely, despite Iran’s threats of retaliation.
Europe, of course, wants to protect its economic interests by ensuring its companies can keep trading and investing in Iran. (Few US firms now do so.) So much of this seems an effort to buy time.
But the global threat from iran remains unchanged — and is growing on a daily basis, despite the Obama deal. It’s long past time to genuinely mend it, or end it.