Policy Analyst James McKeon spoke to ThinkProgress about what withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal could mean.
James McKeon, policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told ThinkProgress that the path forward in the next few months is far from clear.
“The next step after that is that we don’t know, as analysts, what’s going to happen, and neither does the White House,” said McKeon.
What happens next, said Mckeon, could take days or weeks to figure out, but it’s unlikely that the deal would survive without the U.S. being a party to it. He added that the administration’s understanding of the agreement is “flawed” and that the idea that it’s actually giving Iran a pathway to a nuclear weapon is “just fundamentally false.”
Blowing up the deal like a “supernova” is a huge mistake, said McKeon, because “The truth is that JCPOA is, by any objective standard, the most robust, verifiable agreement in the history of nuclear arms control.”
Nuclear talks with North Korea are expected in June, and it’s hard to imagine how North Korea could in good faith negotiate with the Trump administration on shutting down its nuclear weapons program.
“That’s the biggest strategic blunder that’s happening right now, ” said McKeon.
“There’s a huge trust issue here that the North Koreans could simply exploit. They could say, ‘Oh yeah, why would we do an agreement with you when you can’t even hold on to the one you just negotiated three years ago?’
“Ironically, as this whole process is playing out with the Iran deal, the Saudi Arabians are attempting to increase, massively, their energy program and they’re trying to get an agreement with the United States to get help on that with a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement called a 123 Agreement,” said McKeon.
These agreements, known as “gold standard 123 agreements,” said McKeon, are signed with countries all over the world, such as Japan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), prevents them from ever taking what they’re doing with their nuclear energy programs and using it to create a nuclear weapon.
“But the talks right now between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia are not going down the road we took with the U.A.E. — it’s going down a much different path, and that path is essentially allowing them to do certain things like potentially enriching nuclear materials in the future,” said McKeon.
He notes that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has already said that Saudi Arabia would seek nuclear weapons if Iran ever did, adding, “at the same time, we’re having talks — and again, they’re just talks — about a potential agreement where we might not invoke the gold standard as we did with the United Arab Emirates.”
The Trump administration, said McKeon, should condemn any talk of Saudi Arabia acquiring nuclear weapons while negotiating the toughest agreement possible — one that doesn’t allow Saudi to enrich any nuclear materials or reprocess any nuclear materials. Read more