- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

As President Trump prepares to announce that the U.S. could start withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, Kremlin officials are rejoicing that they’re on what they believe will be the “right side of history,” according to leading Russian opinion makers.

Mr. Trump’s desire to reimpose sanctions on Iran — which would be a first step to scrapping the seven-nation 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) that limits Tehran’s nuclear weapons programs — baffles Moscow officials who think the decision is driven by emotion, not evidence.

“Other than Trump’s personal dislike for Barack Obama’s legacy, the United States does not stand to gain by walking away from the JCPOA,” wrote Vladimir Frolov, Russian political analyst and columnist, in Tuesday’s Moscow Times.

Russia “surprisingly, has found itself on what might be called the right side of history,” he added. “It’s is a rare diplomatic moment that Moscow cannot help but relish.”

Russians also dismiss Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s effort last week to sway the debate with intelligence that Iran has been lying to the world about its nuclear program, Mr. Frolov said in the Moscow Times.

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that a “very serious situation” would emerge if Mr. Trump chooses to pull out of the agreement and that it could carry “unavoidable drastic consequences.”

Russian diplomats are siding with their European counterparts continuing last-minute calls to try and stop Mr. Trump from leaving the accord.

“Together with Europe, China and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia fully supports the continued implementation of the JCPOA,” Mr. Frolov wrote.

Russians are also closely watching whether the White House offers any replacement ideas, or simply starts sanctions again, with the author arguing that “it’s worth noting too that the United States has failed to offer any proposals for an alternative, better deal.”

“There is in fact no U.S. win there,” Mr. Frolov wrote, “only a mounting tally of international losses. For Moscow, the Trump administration’s criticism of the Iran deal is incomprehensible and pure folly.”

Mr. Trump has long denounced the deal. Washington analysts have also framed Russia’s support of the deal as part of a Kremlin effort to undermine the U.S. in the Middle East and continue growing its influence, especially in regards to the Syrian Civil war.

The Kremlin sees it very differently.

Moscow realizes that the Trump administration is likely to shoot itself in the foot and isolate the U.S. internationally, were Trump to walk away from the JCPOA,” Mr. Frolov argued. “From Moscow’s perspective, this is a silver lining. It weakens the U.S. position in the run-up to a highly anticipated Trump-Putin meeting, the details of which are still in the works.”

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