Trump’s stance on Iran is 'part of economic war against Tehran & its partners in EU, Asia'
US President Donald Trump on Friday announced he will not certify Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. His decision comes despite the global nuclear watchdog, as well as US and European officials, saying Iran is keeping its side of the bargain.
The move means the US Congress now has 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions against Iran and to come up with new legislation to try and amend the nuclear deal. Yet, if those negotiations fail, Trump says the deal will be terminated, which risks undermining the fragile balance the nuclear deal has secured.
RT discussed with analysts the Iran deal’s future and whether Congress will pass more sanctions against the Islamic republic.
The UK, France, and Germany expressed concern over the possible consequences of Trump’s move, with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini saying that it’s not up to him to terminate such a milestone international deal.
RT asked political analyst Dan Glazebrook whether these countries are right to be concerned.
Dan Glazebrook: Yes, certainly they are right to be. He is talking about re-imposing sanctions. He can’t impose them strictly speaking over the nuclear issue, because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has certified that they are complying with their end of the bargain. So, he is talking about imposing new sanctions over ballistic missiles, or testing, or over so-called ‘support for terrorism’ across the region. This is particularly galling, given that it’s Iran’s militias and so on, and Iran itself, and militias sponsored by Iran… that are, along with the Syrian Arab Army, the only real major ground forces in the war against ISIS that have been having such success… And now their reward is to be sanctioned for doing that…
But that is not only out of concern over issues of justice, and so on – this is also aimed at the EU. It is the European companies and Asian countries that have been making the major oil purchases from Iran since sanctions were eased. And it is a French company, Total, that has been the only major Western oil company to sign a major oil deal with Iran since sanctions were eased. Now, that deal requires about a billion dollars’ worth of long-term investment. Of course, moves like this that Trump is making now throw the future into uncertainty, and that’s having the effect of putting off these investors. So, this is part of the economic war against Iran, but it is also aimed at Iran’s economic partners in Asia and Europe… That is the major issue why the EU is so concerned about this – they know that it’s aimed at them as well.
Jim Jatras, former US diplomat, says the US can pull out of the multinational agreement which it hasn’t ratified as a treaty. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
RT: Back in 2015, Trump criticized Obama for dragging out negotiations with Iran. Isn’t that essentially what Trump has done by decertifying? Do you believe that Trump is now in Obama’s shoes?
Jim Jatras: Not really. Look, all this talk about: “This is a multilateral deal, the US can’t pull out,” well, of course we can. It is not even a treaty by the way – the US has never ratified it as a treaty. And even it if were, as a sovereign state, you can withdraw from a multilateral agreement. That having been said, it doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Right now, we’ll have to see what happens next. Trump has not pulled us out of the agreement… he has thrown it to Congress. It will be up to Congress to decide whether or not they want to re-impose sanctions on Iran, which would have the effect of pulling us out of the deal. Then we’ll have to see what Iran and the other countries that have signed onto the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) want to do after that.
‘Prescription for regime change’
Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof says that President Trump has basically given a prescription for regime change in Iran.
RT: Do you expect Congress to pass more sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program?
Michael Maloof: I think since Congress can’t get anything done, it’s going to be highly unlikely. Secondly, there is a lot of difficulty within the Congress in going along with the president… Even some Democrats are very concerned about pulling out of this thing. I am little concerned about his statement [yesterday] because he has basically stated a prescription for regime change, if you will, in Iran as a result of this. It’s also going to have an effect of ostracizing us from the other allies. And it could pivot more of the – in this case – Russia as being the adult in the room when it comes to dealing with Iran and other international issues – especially in the Middle East. He offered absolutely nothing in terms of carrots in this, even though Iran was in strict compliance, even according to the IAEA, as well as our US military leaders. He is using this agreement to go after Iran on a variety of other areas. And it basically mirrors what Israel has been saying – and that reflects basically the US once again trying to conduct Israeli policy through US auspices.
Nicolas J.S. Davies, author of Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, says it’s likely that this time there will be a serious debate in Congress, which has until now acted like a rubber stamp for sanctions against Iran.
RT: The next step is up to Congress. Do you expect it to pass more sanctions on Iran due to its nuclear program after Trump refused to certify the deal?
Nicolas Davies: I think Trump seems to have already imposed new sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards in Iran. There seems to be some confusion over whether he actually technically is designating them as a terrorist organization. But those would be new sanctions, which would appear to violate the JCPOA. That would need a more technical reading or interpretation to determine whether it really does. It remains to be seen how Iran will respond to that. In terms of Congress, there is obviously going to be a serious debate. In the past, Congress acted as a rubber stamp for all kinds of sanctions and threatening actions towards Iran. Since the signing of the JCPOA, there seems to be a little more awareness in Congress of how dangerous it could be to get back on a path of no holds barred mutual threats and hostility with Iran.