And it's official: Donald Trump is scrapping years of US and EU, Russia, and China allied diplomacy and immediately slapping punitive sanctions on Iran, something that will almost certainly lead to disaster.
The president said he is removing the U.S from the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and will reimpose economic sanctions on Iran at "the highest level of economic sanction" and target "any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons" with sanctions, too.
Trump announced his decision at the White House after a last-ditch effort by European allies to urge Trump to stay in the agreement and build upon it. Trump instead argued the deal was so bad that it had to be discarded to move forward.
"It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement," Trump said. "The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen."
The nuclear deal was negotiated and agreed to by Iran and the P5+1 – the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany – in 2015, granting Iran sanctions relief and returning frozen assets in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program and international inspections.
The Saudis are the big winners here, as is Israel, and as with the TPP trade deal, the US will simply be excluded while Iran deals with Russia, China, and the EU.
As to what happens next, well certainly Iran will resume its nuclear program if a deal can't be worked out with the remaining powers, who of course will be directly threatened by Trump if they don't back him. I fully expect new sanctions will be announced on top of the penalty sanctions in the nuclear deal, which will of course cause Iran to leave the table. Either way, America's credibility is shot for a generation.
The good scenario is that our stupidly self-forced isolationism ends in 2021 and we can get back to mending bridges that Trump burnt. The bad scenario, well, there's plenty of them, and a lot of them involve the words "regime change".
We'll see where all this goes, but I think this is going to be one of those generational things that defines the Trump regime's lasting damage upon this earth.