U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about Iran and the Iran nuclear deal, October 13, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

After a year of complaining about the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), U.S. President Donald Trump finally resorted to threats. In January, he gave Congress and Europe an ultimatum: if they did not fix what he considered the agreement’s shortcomings by May, he would kill the deal.

Trump’s chief objection is that certain restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program expire, or “sunset,” after 10–15 years. He has also raised concerns about Iran’s support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and various Shiite militia groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and has decried the absence of measures to address Iran’s ballistic missile program. These latter concerns are broadly shared, but Trump seems to harbor unrealistic expectations that the nuclear agreement address all of Iran’s problematic activities. In the rough and tumble world of international diplomacy, it is impossible to get

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  • ILAN GOLDENBERG is the Director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He previously served as Iran Team Chief in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  • ELIZABETH ROSENBERG is the Director of the Energy, Economics, and Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. She previously served as a Senior Sanctions Adviser at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
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