Author: Munir Podumljak
Trump’s decision to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the ‘Iran deal’ left European leaders shocked and confused, struggling to comprehend the behavior of their most important ally. François Delattre, France’s ambassador to the United Nations, invented a new term for such an act of unilateral isolationism – “unisolationism”, with France’s foreign Secretary Jean-Yves Le Drian later declaring that “the American logic is an isolationist, protectionist and unilateral logic.” 
The rationale for the US President’s decision was no clearer to US security and foreign policy actors. Former CIA director John Brennan told MSNBC News that he “does not understand the logic (behind the decision)”, and that in deciding to pull out from the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump “foolishly and blindly pursued a campaign promise about trashing a nuclear deal”, further reinstating that the decision was made on a “very flawed understanding of that (JCPOA) arrangement.”
It is hardly the only radical shift in US foreign policy that has occurred under Trump, a president whose decisions – whether strategic or impetuous – are re-shaping the world order. In this article, we unpick the winners of this particular decision and demonstrate mechanisms through which some key winners may have been instrumental in provoking it.
The JCPOA deal was reached in Vienna on 14 July 2015, the culmination of long negotiations between Iran, the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus non-member Germany) and the European Union. US-Iran relations had become tense in 2005, when the UN International Atomic
Sanctions against Iran may have been spearheaded by the United States, but they were given weight by the cooperation and collaboration of the world’s largest economy at the time, the European Union. In 2007, following the US diplomatic offensive, the EU froze the assets of the individuals and entities related to Iran’s military programs. They further extended sanctions in 2010 by “blocking European institutions from transacting with Iranian banks, including its central bank, and restricting trade and investment with the country’s energy and transport sector”. This culminated in 2012 with a measure to ban the import of oil and petrochemical products as well as insurance on shipping, and to freeze assets related to Iran’s central bank.
The cooperation of the EU was critical to the impact of the sanctions. As the CRS report noted, “A year prior to its 2012 oil embargo, the EU was the largest importer of Iranian oil, averaging 600,000 barrels per day”. Overall, the full package of sanctions (US, EU and UN) crippled the Iranian economy. In the year after the sanctions were imposed, Iran’s oil production halved, resulting in USD160 billion losses in oil revenue in 2012 alone, according to then US Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.
Read more in the next article.
This article was created with the support of the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media within the project “Media Reality” – Developing and Encouraging the Media Literacy Programme
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