The Iran nuclear deal Jenga tower is wobbling and the Trump administration is close to pulling the final block before it could collapse for good, NBC News reports.
The deal is already in a fragile state following America's 2018 withdrawal, and Iran's recent decision to surpass the pact's uranium enrichment regulations. Now, the White House is reportedly considering ending waivers that allow Tehran to operate a civilian nuclear program with international assistance, which the government says it needs to generate electricity and conduct research.
Advocates on both sides are reportedly pleading with President Trump to take their desired course. On the side of restraint are European nations still clinging to the hope that the original deal from 2015 can be salvaged through diplomacy. Several Republican members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), however, are whispering in Trump's other ear, arguing that Iran cannot be trusted.
The latter view may be winning out, especially in light of Iran's seizure of a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, which Tehran says was an act of reciprocity. Even the aforementioned European nations — the United Kingdom, Germany, and France — have condemned Iran's move, with the U.K. promising "robust" action if the ship is not returned. Meanwhile, the U.S. announced it will deploy military personnel to Saudi Arabia as a result of rising tensions.
CNN's Sam Kiley suggests that Tehran's latest "gamble," which is seemingly proof that the country's moderate voices have been stifled, could shift those European countries more closely to Washington. Perhaps supporting the end of the waiver is the next step, though plenty of people still believe exercising caution is the correct course. Tim O'Donnell