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Donald Trump is destroying the international nonproliferation regime

Trump is laying the ground for a nuclear arms race in the Gulf

Trump’s mismanagement of the nuclear issue in the Middle East is damaging the international nonproliferation regime. Alzaeera, by Luciano Zaccara,  Over the past three months since the Trump administration imposed severe sanctions on Iran, which have significantly curbed its oil exports and exacerbated its economic crisis, tensions in the Gulf have escalated. Commercial vessels have been attacked, oil tankers seized and drones shot down. Despite these escalations, both sides are holding back and at least in the short-term, an open conflict so far seems unlikely.

 

In the long-term, however, the highly-problematic approach that the United States has adopted towards the nuclear issue could have devastating consequences. Two recent developments point in that direction.

First, the Trump administration has given a green light to US companies to work on nuclear projects in Saudi Arabia. According to a report recently released by the US Congress Oversight Committee, “with regard to Saudi Arabia, the Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests.”

The report also stated that the evidence collected and analyzed “raise serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.”

The White House seems committed to allowing the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology without demanding that Riyadh abide by US legal requirements not to engage in activities that can lead to nuclear proliferation.

Second, in response to mounting pressure from the US, Iran has announced that it is going to backtrack on a number of commitments made under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if the international community does not take measures to ameliorate the effects of US sanctions on its economy.

Iran has already stopped complying with limits on the production of enriched uranium and heavy water, invoking articles 26 and 36 of the agreement, which entitle it to do so if the other parties reintroduce nuclear-related sanctions.

Thus, Washington’s incapacity to deal with the Iranian file in a coherent manner, and its erratic policies on nuclear proliferation, are pushing the Middle East towards a dangerous nuclear competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Nuclear ambitions

The nuclear aspirations of both countries are not new………

A collapsing nonproliferation regime

With its ill-advised policies in the Gulf, the Trump administration is not only encouraging a nuclear race in the region by allowing Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear technology, but it is also undermining the international non-proliferation regime.

Since nuclear powers agreed in the 1960s to curb the spread of nuclear weapons, there have been a number of cases in which countries – including Israel, India, and Pakistan – have broken international rules in pursuit of nuclearisation and not faced serious consequences.

The double standards applied by the Trump administration have been particularly damaging to international nonproliferation agreements. Trump has pursued normalisation of relations with North Korea – a state that openly tested and detonated nuclear devices – while withdrawing from a nuclear deal with Iran, which was strictly abided by all provisions and was not working on developing a nuclear bomb.

Effectively, the US government destroyed a well-functioning agreement that enjoyed wide international support in order to satisfy the commercial interests of a few individuals close to the White House and give an advantage to one side in the growing regional rivalry in the Middle East.

These actions have thrown the international community into disarray, as now there appears to be no clear consensus on what nuclear activities can be considered a threat, what evidence state actors must present to be regarded as truly committed to nonproliferation and what instruments – legal, economic, or military – should be used to enforce the nonproliferation regulations.

Washington’s unilateral (mis)management of the nuclear issue is endangering the whole nonproliferation regime, weakening any multilateral agreement or negotiation, and leaving solely the White House to decide on how to deal with these abovementioned questions.

In the current volatile situation in the Middle East – with intensifying confrontation along religious, ethnic, territorial and ideological cleavages – the lack of a robust non-proliferation agreement will encourage a nuclear race in the region and increase the chances of pre-emptive military attacks that could lead to large-scale war. Luciano Zaccara is professor of Gulf Politics at the Qatar University Gulf Studies Centerhttps://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/trump-laying-ground-nuclear-arms-race-gulf-190801130430388.html

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August 18, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment