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Trump Orders 1000 Troops to Middle East After Iran Threatens to Breach Nuclear Deal
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18 Jun 2019 06:23 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: 2012 Iran nuclear program map (Image source: Yagasi via Wikimedia Commons)

 

While Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal one year ago, now that Iran is threatening to breach the deal they still hold with six other countries, the president has ordered 1000 additional troops to the Middle East.

 

The U.S. and Iran initially entered into this agreement in 2015 along with the United Kingdom, Russia, the European Union, Germany, France, and China. As part of the deal, Iran agreed to get rid of its uranium and reduce its number of gas centrifuges by about two-thirds. Additionally, they agreed not to build new heavy-water facilities and limit uranium-enrichment activities to a single facility. 

In May 2018 Trump pulled the United States out of the deal and threatened sanctions. The EU put forth an updated blocking statute three months later that would nullify sanctions on countries that traded with Iran. Last November the U.S. sanctions were put back into play, with the Trump administration trying to force Iran to alter its policies.

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) certified last month that Iran was abiding by the key terms of the deal, though the number of advanced centrifuges was questioned.  

In this time there have also been many tensions between the U.S. and Iran. These were heightened late last week when oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were attacked, with the United States' grainy footage showing what they believe was Iran taking an undeployed weapon off one of the damaged tankers.

 

The attacks happened just hours after Iran announced it would be violating the nuclear deal within days unless Europe agreed to help it handle the U.S. sanctions. 

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization stated that in 10 days it will have produced and stockpiled more low-enriched uranium than the nuclear deal allows. Iran also added there is a possibility it may begin enriching the uranium to higher levels, which would put the levels close to what is needed to produce a nuclear weapon.

 

While Europe is urging the U.S. and Iran to use restraint, the White House wants other countries to exert more pressure on Iran. 

"President Trump has made it clear he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons," said the National Security Council in a statement. However, his actions in the last year have led to Iran doing just that, moving closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons.

 

Trump has ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East on top of the 1,500 that were sent last month. Mostly this is to surveil activities in Iran and to protect the U.S. forces that are already in the Middle East. The Pentagon has considered deploying 6,000 additional troops. 

"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan in a statement.

 

U.S. sanctions, though, have hurt the Iranian economy so much that Tehran has warned it can't stay in the deal unless European countries aid them in getting around the sanctions.  

China and Russia have opposed Trump's policies with Iran, and China has said it plans to continue buying Iranian oil. Germany, Britain, and France have a system going that allows European companies to do a barter trade system with Iran.

 

Trump has imposed economic sanctions that have discouraged many companies from working with Iran and also employed measures that cut off their revenue from oil, which is integral to their economy.  

It's had such an impact on Iran, that it's even led to a shortage of critical medicine. This is despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowing that humanitarian aid would be untouched.

 

"This was an entirely predictable consequence of the Trump administration's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and maximum pressure strategy," said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran project at the International Crisis Group. "In practice, maximum pressure has produced maximum peril and minimum strategic results." 

"Now we are stumbling to the brink of war without the support of our allies," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. "Congress must step up and prevent an unconstitutional war with Iran and avert one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in decades."

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