The deal’s future becomes even less promising with the exit of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state – seen as a voice of moderation – and his imminent replacement by Mike Pompeo – a hardliner and an Iran hawk.
The deal, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was negotiated in 2015, during the administration of Barack Obama. Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap the enrichment grade below the level needed for weapons-grade material, and reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent for 15 years. In exchange, Tehran received the lifting of sanctions imposed against it over a decade for allegedly secretly making a nuclear weapon – a claim that it has always denied.
Trump, who is in the habit of criticizing the policies of his predecessor, repeatedly called the JCPOA the “worst deal ever negotiated” and accused Iran of breaching it. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is tasked with monitoring Iran’s compliance, says Tehran has been holding its part of the bargain. Still, Trump threatened on many occasions that he would see the deal dismantled.’