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Editorial: US withdrawal from nuke accord with Iran could intensify conflicts

U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration that the United States is pulling out of its nuclear agreement with Iran is feared to cause confusion and intensify conflicts in the Middle East.

The Trump government has concluded that the 2015 agreement, which the U.S. administration of then President Barack Obama and five other countries -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- signed with Iran cannot prevent the country from possessing nuclear arms. The U.S. administration also believes that the lifting of sanctions against Iran under the accord only benefits the country.

Moreover, Trump said the United States will resume its sanctions on Iran, which Washington has lifted, instituting the "highest level of economic sanctions." However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international nuclear watchdog, has acknowledged that Iran has abided by the agreement.

Britain, France and Germany issued a joint statement expressing regret and concern over the U.S. decision. Questions remain as to whether Iran's missile development and other matters, which the United States has called into question, constitute a clear violation of the accord. It appears that Washington has stuck to the position that the country must leave the accord with Tehran by all means.

The Trump government previously announced that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement and the Paris Agreement on countermeasures against climate change. It is not unusual for the Trump administration to disregard international accords and disapprove achievements made by Obama. However, Trump's latest decision is more dangerous than previous such moves.

Israel and Saudi Arabia had voiced stiff opposition to the nuclear accord with Iran. Trump visited Saudi Arabia after taking office and agreed to sell a massive volume of weapons to the country. He also announced that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and would shift its embassy in Israel to the city apparently because he sought to realign the Middle Eastern order with these two countries as its core. Trump also appears to intend to woo pro-Israel evangelical Christians toward the midterm elections this coming autumn.

However, Trump's clear commitment to these countries could intensify conflicts between Israelis and Arabs, between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and between other parties, eventually contributing to destabilization in the Middle East. If Iran were to pull out of the nuclear deal citing internal political reasons and resume nuclear development, it could lead to a serious crisis.

What is notable is that Trump announced his decision as a message to North Korea. It should be welcomed that he has clarified his intention to seek a strict agreement at his planned summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

However, the latest decision by Trump could be viewed as an example of how the United States does not hesitate to easily break agreements reached through serious negotiations with other countries. Such practices could damage the international community's trust in the United States. Washington should solve frustrations with international agreements through negotiations with the countries concerned.

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