President Donald Trump has fulfilled his promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal. For a man about to stare down Kim Jong Un over a near-identical issue, it’s a gutsy move. The rest of the signatories (Germany, France, the U.K., Russia, China) have vowed to uphold the terms of the agreement. Iran has signaled a desire to do the same. We now live in an “America First,” post–Pax Americana world — one in which the U.S. doesn’t play a lead role, but a participatory one. It’s a world, in other words, in which an Iran deal, even if it’s not this Iran deal, might survive without the U.S. aboard. At least, that’s what supporters in Iran and Europe have to hope.
There are plenty of reasons why the U.S. would be better off remaining part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), even if it does have some glaring flaws (like its failure to rein in Iran’s ballistic missile program and to outline what happens after the terms of the deal begin expiring in 2025). Withdrawing Washington from the agreement further isolates the U.S at a particularly precarious moment in global politics. China and Russia have spent years attempting to convince countries that they are stable and preferable alternatives to the U.S.; Trump made a compelling case for them in a single press conference.