The Contradiction Buried in Trump’s Iran and North Korea Policies – New York Times

 In World

Mr. Trump’s aides see the problem and in an entirely different way.

The lesson that the North Koreans would take away from the Iran deal, they say, is that the United States can be rolled. The Iran deal is not a permanent solution to the Iranian nuclear problem, they argue, but just a temporary fix. After 15 years, many of the limits on the production of nuclear material will be lifted, even if inspection requirements remain.

“If we’re going to stick with the Iran deal there has to be changes made to it,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said on Fox News on Tuesday. “The sunset provisions simply is not a sensible way forward,” he added, arguing that they amount to “kicking the can down the road.”

Mr. Trump’s argument goes further. In interviews with The New York Times last year, he criticized the deal as failing to address Iran’s missile capability, the detention of American citizens and Tehran’s support of terrorist groups around the Middle East. He seeks something more akin to a “grand bargain” with Iran, something the nuclear deal was never intended to be.


North Korea’s state news agency said this was the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile.

Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

Mr. Tillerson will have an opportunity to make these arguments on Wednesday at a meeting of all the signatories of the Iran deal, including his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Mr. Zarif used to talk or email every few days with John Kerry, the American secretary of state who negotiated the deal.

In an interview this summer, Mr. Zarif said he and Mr. Tillerson had never spoken, and the American-educated Iranian diplomat left little doubt on Tuesday what he thought of Mr. Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, in which the president called the Iranian leadership a “corrupt dictatorship” that masks itself as a democracy.

“Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times — not the 21st Century UN — unworthy of a reply,” Mr. Zarif tweeted. (While they will be in the same room, it is not clear if Mr. Zarif and Mr. Tillerson will talk directly.)

In the end, this entire argument may be moot. China and Russia have said they have no interest in renegotiating the deal. Britain and France have said they would be willing to engage Iran in a negotiation over an addendum to the accord, but the Iranians have rejected that out of hand. And the White House has never said what, if anything, it was willing to give up in return for renegotiating the terms.

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