A Nuclear Time Bomb

Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal: what does this mean for the world?

Key Actors:

  • Iran, led by President Hassan Rouhani
  • The United States of America, led by President Donald Trump
  • Other countries involved in the deal (France, Germany, UK, Russia, China)

What is the Iran Nuclear Deal?

In 2015, Iran allegedly made attempts to develop nuclear weapons, agitating much of the International Community. As a result, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran Nuclear Deal was signed with the five standing members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, France, United Kingdom, Russia, China) and Germany. Essentially, the Iran Nuclear Deal lessens the severe economic sanctions on Iran set in place by those countries in exchange for Iran limiting its development in nuclear technology. This includes cutting Iran’s uranium reserves by 97%, limiting its uranium refinery plants, halting the use of facilities that make plutonium, and allowing international inspections to ensure Iran follows the outlined regulations. To exit the deal, a country simply breaks the agreement, in this case with the United States re-imposing sanctions on Iran.

Impacts of US pullout:

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has been complying to the terms set out in the agreement. With US withdrawal, there are different views on what could happen. Many believe that Iran will begin its nuclear development again, becoming a threat to the global community. Others believe that Iran knows that US military intervention will come inevitably with nuclear development and thus will not do so. The other countries involved in the deal are not so pleased by the actions of the US. As Vox states, what Trump is imposing are secondary sanctions, which hurt companies that do business with Iran by not allowing them into the American market. This could make European and foreign companies less likely to invest and bring economic benefit to Iran, which not only hurts foreign economies, but also takes away Iran’s incentive to uphold their end of the deal.

The Iran Nuclear Deal was created to stall a crisis in the Middle East. With the United States’s recent actions, a new threat could be approaching the Gulf. If Iran begins to restart its nuclear program, there can only be two outcomes: either Iran arms themselves nuclear weapons or the United States wages yet another war in the Middle East to attempt to prevent that from happening. As both are quite disagreeable, the world can only wait to see what Iran’s response will be.


  • Details of the JCPOA:
    • A ban on any uranium that could potentially create a bomb, and a 97% reduction of Iran’s enriched uranium reserves
    • Limiting centrifuges (uranium enrichment devices) to 5000
    • A ban on any use of the Arak facility (used to make plutonium)
    • Allowing inspections from the IAEA
    • If Iran should violate the terms, the UN would immediately reimpose sanctions for 10 years
  • As a result of the JCPOA:
    • Iran received access to $100 billion in frozen assets overseas


“Value of Iran Sanctions Relief Is Hard to Measure.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2015/08/06/world/middleeast/conflicting-claims-cloud-irans-financial-gain-in-nuclear-deal.html.

Bethan McKernan Beirut. “Iran Nuclear Deal: Why Has Trump Withdrawn US from It and Why Does It Matter?” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 9 May 2018, www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-deal-why-trump-us-withdraw-effect-europe-rouhani-latest-a8343496.html.

Holpuch, Amanda, et al. “Donald Trump Says US Will No Longer Abide by Iran Deal – as It Happened.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 May 2018, www.theguardian.com/world/live/2018/may/08/iran-nuclear-deal-donald-trump-latest-live-updates.

Marcus, Jonathan. “Iran Nuclear Deal: What Now after Trump’s Decision to Pull out?” BBC News, BBC, 8 May 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44047528.

“Iran Nuclear Deal: Europe Strives to Keep Agreement.” BBC News, BBC, 11 May 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-44090948.

Dreazen, Yochi. “European Diplomats Are so Angry with Trump’s Iran Decision That They’ve Literally Created a New Anti-Trump Word.” Vox, Vox, 9 May 2018, www.vox.com/world/2018/5/9/17335308/trump-decertify-iran-nuclear-deal-europe-sanction.

Beauchamp, Zack. “Trump’s Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, Explained.” Vox, Vox, 8 May 2018, www.vox.com/world/2018/5/8/17328520/iran-nuclear-deal-trump-withdraw.

“Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details.” BBC News, BBC, 8 May 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33521655.





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