DONALD Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is bound to cause international consternation, not least because the United States’ most influential and powerful allies were united in their opposition to such a move.
The intervention of Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson summed up the concerns of not only the Government but the leaders of both France and Germany, when he pointed out that however flawed the deal may be, it forms the best basis for minimising the threat of Iran developing a nuclear arsenal.
The Government’s approach on this issue has been both practical and pragmatic, recognising that Iran must be engaged with if the delicate balance of power in the Middle East is to be preserved.
This attitude has also been commendably realistic in acknowledging that if the deal were to be abandoned, it potentially leaves a dangerous vacuum, with no effective strategy for containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, that risks undermining diplomacy and strengthening the hand of hardliners in Tehran.
On that basis, Britain has surely been correct in its assessment that the deal brokered by former US President Barack Obama in 2015 was, whatever its drawbacks, the most promising way forward for developing an ongoing dialogue with Iran that hopefully leads the way towards a more peaceful future.
Mr Trump can point to his less cautious approach towards foreign policy for the apparent success of engaging North Korea in talks aimed at minimising the risk of nuclear conflict.
He deserves credit for this, but the issue of Iran is much more complex than that of North Korea, an isolated and impoverished state with few allies. Iran, on the other hand, is at the centre of a tangled web of alliances and power struggles in the Middle East, and unpicking it requires a more nuanced strategy.