Arguably, if anyone has the right to complain, it is Iran. It has unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges and shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium, but has not seen the economic benefits it was promised. Nearly three years on, not a single tier-one European bank is prepared to do business with Iran. The country’s currency crisis last month showed the extent of its economic vulnerability. Trump’s controversial Muslim travel ban has targeted Iranians and hampered the growth of tourism.
Perhaps more importantly, the collapse of the deal would be seen by the Iranian people as a huge betrayal. In 2013, Iranians brought the era of Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (despised at home after a fraudulent re-election in 2009), to a close. They put their trust in the reform-minded Hassan Rouhani, who subsequently fulfilled his promise to them of resolving the nuclear dispute with the west. Iran’s tech-savvy young people are by and large more progressive than previous generations. Last year, 24 million Iranians re-elected Rouhani by a landslide in an endorsement of his work on the deal. Yet just as the agreement is beginning to deliver, and with Iran fully complying, a new US administration seems set on scuppering it.