Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

The Iranian Protests Are an Opportunity for Trump — Just Not the One He Wants

| Jan. 08, 2018

Recent protests across Iran offer a new opportunity for American policy — just not the one to which President Trump is instinctively drawn.

Over the next few days, the president has to decide whether to continue the nuclear deal with Iran. Trump and his team may be tempted to argue that abiding by the deal while the Iranian government cracks down on protesters is a fool’s errand. But that would amount to a strategic own goal. It would make the issue about us, not the vulnerability and wounded legitimacy of a regime out of touch with its people. It would also miss the real policy opportunity before us — to renew international pressure against the Iranian leadership’s threats to the region and its people, while still constraining its nuclear ambitions. The Trump administration could reset its Iran policy in a way that puts Washington back in the lead and Tehran on the diplomatic defensive.

The nuclear deal with Iran reserves the option for the United States to take measures against the Iranian government for non-nuclear transgressions. There is nothing inconsistent with enforcing the nuclear deal and, for example, passing new economic measures that target human rights abusers in Iran, as well as actors outside of Iran who are supplying the Iranian security services with the tools to crack down on and censor civilians. The chances of persuading our European and other partners to join similar measures are substantially enhanced if the nuclear agreement is not abandoned.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Burns, William and Jake Sullivan.“The Iranian Protests Are an Opportunity for Trump — Just Not the One He Wants.” The Washington Post, January 8, 2018.

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