Here’s the full transcript of the interview:
Muslim Press: How has Washington’s stance on the nuclear agreement and relations with Iran changed since Donald Trump became president?
Andrew Bacevich: Before Trump there was at least some hope that the JCPOA might serve as a first step leading to a broader opening of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Trump has demolished any such expectations.
MP: In an interview you said: "The powers who negotiated the JCPOA with Iran are giving that country an opportunity to demonstrate that it can become a responsible player in international politics.” However, according to the IAEA, Iran has been in compliance with its commitments under the deal. On the other hand, the U.S. is likely to unilaterally exit the deal. What’s your take on this?
Andrew Bacevich: I don't agree that the U.S. is likely to exit the deal. That remains to be seen. Trump has punted the issue to the Congress, which may or may not decide to pull out.
MP: Is Trump’s lack of commitment to an internationally-endorsed agreement a justification for Iranian people’s deep distrust of Washington?
Andrew Bacevich: I'm not in a position to judge what Iranians think about the U.S. government. Broadly speaking, however, Trump's actions are likely to undercut U.S. credibility.
MP: EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini has said: "This deal is not a bilateral agreement, this is not an international treaty,” but part of a UN Security Council Resolution, "so it is clearly not in the hands of any president of any country in the world to terminate an agreement of this sort.” She also said: "The president of the United States has many powers, but not this one.” What could you say about this?
Andrew Bacevich: She is 100% correct. For that very reason, it's important to avoid placing too much emphasis on what Trump says or does. He may think he's the emperor of the world. In fact, his authority is quite limited.
MP: What will happen if the U.S. unilaterally exits the JCPOA? Will the UN take punitive measures against the U.S. for such action?
Andrew Bacevich: The U.S. will veto any punitive action proposed by the UN Security Council. Everyone knows that.
MP: In your opinion, what measures is Iran entitled to do to get back at such move?
Andrew Bacevich: What Iran might be entitled to do is not the question. Iran will do whatever serves Iranian interests. As long as the JCPOA, even without the U.S., provides Iran with the economic benefits that it seeks, then Iran is likely to honor the deal.
Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he received his PhD in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty of Boston University, he taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins. He is the author of the new book "America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.”