Donald Trump rejects the policy pursued by the previous US President Barack Obama for a politico-diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue and the gradual involvement of Iran into the Western orbit as a failed tactics. The US president follows the policy to undermine the JCPOA in order to establish total deterrence against the growing influence of Iran in the Middle East.
This week, the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem. Washington resumes the previously frozen anti-Iranian sanctions, related to Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The US is preparing to introduce unilateral sanctions against companies and banks of those countries, which will not stop investment, trade, economic, and financial cooperation with Iran. Donald Trump ignored the persistent calls of leaders of the European countries – participants in the JCPOA – not to quit the nuclear deal with Iran, as well as the opinion of a significant part of the American establishment: the withdrawal from the JCPOA ruins the international control over Tehran’s nuclear activities, prestige, trust and the US negotiability, leads to further crises in the Middle East.
The Agony of the Iran Deal
Trump has decided to please his voter base with the termination of the Iran deal. He went on with his notorius ambition to deconstruct Obama’s legacy and gave in to his hawkish advisers. In addition, Israel and Saudi Arabia had lobbied hard with Trump to nix the deal.
Much closer and more understandable for Donald Tramp were the insinuations of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the “continuing” development of Iran’s military nuclear program. The US President was not embarrassed by the fact that the information voiced by the Israeli leader is not new and is well known to the IAEA, which closed this issue after verifying that Iran stopped probable but unproven work in this field back in 2003.
Encouraged by his closest hawks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, Donald Trump clearly provokes Tehran to withdraw from the JCPOA, resume its nuclear activities, stop cooperation with the IAEA in order to dump to Tehran all the responsibility for the aggravation of the situation surrounding the nuclear deal. Iran’s radical hawks, who have long insisted on such steps, may become his good assistants on this matter.
Thus, Donald Trump rejects the policy pursued by the previous US President Barack Obama for a politico-diplomatic settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue and the gradual involvement of Iran into the Western orbit as a failed tactics. The US president follows the policy to undermine the JCPOA in order to establish total deterrence against the growing influence of Iran in the Middle East. It is no coincidence that in January Donald Trump demanded to supplement the JCPOA with provisions on the transfer of all temporary restrictions on the development of the Iranian nuclear program to a permanent basis, the extension of IAEA inspections to all military facilities, termination of the missile program and “destabilizing” activities of Iran in the region.
By tightening the anti-Iranian course, the US pursues several main goals. First, to prevent the strengthening of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East, to achieve international isolation of Tehran, presenting it as a pariah violating all norms of international law, to downplay the role of Iran as an influential regional power with its legitimate national interests. Second, through the intensification of multifaceted sanctions and worsening of socio-economic situation in Iran, to provoke an increase of discontent and anti-government protests of the population with the aim of regime change.
The Iranian leadership is well aware of the intentions of the current US administration, and shows enviable endurance. It strongly condemns and rejects all attempts by Trump to disrupt the nuclear deal, constantly stressing that Tehran, unlike Washington, strictly observes its JCPOA obligations, which is confirmed by the IAEA. At the same time, Iran makes it clear that its patience is not unlimited and it counts on the firm position of the other JCPOA participants, especially the European troika (United Kingdom, France and Germany), in favor of preserving the nuclear deal. At the same time, the Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei and President Rouhani insist that the EU should give Iran firm guarantees of its interests, preserving all trade, economic and other benefits provided by the nuclear deal.
The EU, and the European troika in particular, have a difficult task: to maintain the JCPOA without aggravating relations with Washington. If the US Treasury really introduces stringent requirements to end cooperation with Tehran, the reaction from Europe may be an appeal to the WTO to challenge unilateral US measures against the European companies, or the introduction of blocking legislation to protect the interests of European businesses. But the problem is whether the European countries dare to begin confrontation with the United States and whether they would sacrifice transatlantic solidarity, the huge US market and multifaceted ties with the world’s largest economy for the sake of Iran.
If it is not possible to save the JCPOA, Iran will have free hands. The moderate wing of the Iranian leadership, which advocates for the normalization of relations with the West and the integration of Iran into the world economic system, will be defeated. Simultaneously, the influence of radical circles, which are inclined towards confrontation with the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, will sharply increase. Tehran’s regional activity will be intensified. If the United States and Israel take even limited military action against Iran and the pro-Iranian armed groups, this could lead to a dangerous military and political crisis. If Iran reactivates its nuclear program and refuses to cooperate with the IAEA, this will lead to a nuclear arms race, undermining the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which is fraught with serious consequences.