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'It Was Never Obama's Iran Nuclear Deal or War. That's Not Trump's Choice Either'

Dr. Emily Landau, one of the foremost experts on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, claims that Iran's threats to pull out of the deal if Trump tries to renegotiate it are exaggerated - the deal has been great for Iran - interview

L-R: U.S. President Donald Trump, Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS, Bebeto Matthews/AP, Abir Sultan/ POOL/REUTERS

Dr. Emily Landau was a vocal opponent of the way the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiations were managed right from the start. She's written that, "In order to sell the deal, the Obama administration misled the American public by presenting the choice as between this deal or war."

Opinion by Emily Landau: Why Does Europe Still Have Faith in Iran, a Serial Nuclear Cheat and Liar?

Emily Landau: "Iran is strongly, strongly motivated to become a nuclear state"Haaretz

That "political false dichotomy" was, she believes, the Obama administration's key mistake: Not to push Iran to greater concessions and greater oversight over its military capabilities relevant to its nuclear program.

Dr. Landau is seriously concerned by the mixed messages that European allies are transmitting, how Iran might exploit the policy gap between the EU and the U.S., and by the need – which has not yet been properly addressed – to challenge other aspects of Iran's regional aggression, not least from Syria, where it's entrenching itself, and directly threatening Israel.

She rejects the notion that there are any grounds for comparison between Israel, an "assumed nuclear state" and Iran on nuclear issues. They are "worlds apart", she states: Israel's "unique model of nuclear ambiguity" has actually "enhanced Mideast stability, not undermined it."

Iran deal

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Landau considers Iran's "cold rationality" as a key reason it's so dangerous.

For those worrying that the current U.S. administration is not being run with the same expert, objective focus, Landau offers a partial corrective: Despite the White House's ongoing controversies, "on this topic specifically" – Iran and nuclear non-proliferation – "we see consistency, we see logic."

And here's a second source of partial comfort: Landau doesn't buy the doomsday scenarios for the day after Trump's likely exit from the Iran deal. "We’ll be in a new chapter of this ongoing nuclear crisis," she says. But she warns that time-wasting benefits only Tehran: "The situation regarding Iran needs to be turned around. Now."