President Trump, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last Thursday, said he expects Iran to be non-compliant with the terms of the JCPOA nuclear deal by next September, despite his admission that the Islamic Republic has not violated the deal to date.
“We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant,” Trump told the Journal. “Personally, I have great respect for my people, but if it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago,” adding “We’ll talk about the subject in 90 days but I would be surprised if they were in compliance.”
The nuclear deal, signed by the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the U.S., plus Germany) in Vienna in July 2015, put Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program under the strictest inspections and safeguards regime to ever exist, cut Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent and reduced the number of Iranian gas centrifuges by about two-thirds, among many other things. Those Iranian concessions were supposed to be met with the waiving of American, European Union and UN sanctions and the recovery of about $100 billion in Iranian assets.
Every 90 days, the U.S. must declare whether or not Iran is abiding by the terms of the agreement and determine if waived sanctions should be reimposed or remain lifted.
“We never before have seen a desire to unravel and destroy an arms control deal having been telegraphed as openly as president Trump is doing,” Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, told Democracy Now on Monday. “He’s essentially saying that he would never have certified their compliance 180 days ago when he first had to do it. So, he’s intent not to do it.”
Parsi went further, suggesting Trump has plans to gin up military conflict with the Iranians.
“The plan appears to be to try to request access to Iranian non-nuclear sites, knowing very well that as long as those [requests] are based on zero proper intelligence, the Iranians are going to reject,” Parsi said. “And once they reject, the Trump administration calculates that they will be able to say the Iranians are out of compliance with the deal, and that way start moving toward what ultimately will most likely be some form of military confrontation.”
Last week Parsi also warned the administration was “pushing for IAEA access to Iranian military sites without a compelling justification” in order to “fabricate” a crisis, a development he called “deeply concerning.”
Trump, for his part, has likely already undermined the agreement, personally violating Article 29 of the deal, which states the signatories “will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran inconsistent with their commitments not to undermine the successful implementation of this JCPOA.” Trump’s urging of other nations to not do legal business with Iran arguably constitutes a violation of that article, at least in spirit if not by the letter of the deal.
Despite certifying Iran as compliant with the deal this time around, Trump, according to three insider sources cited in a July 21 piece at Foreign Policy, is looking for ways to find the Islamic Republic non-compliant on the next review.
Before the most recent certification, Trump specifically asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to lay the groundwork for finding Iran non-compliant, which Tillerson failed to do. Now the president is reportedly looking to circumvent the State Department altogether in order to build his case for de-certification and avoid inconvenient information that doesn’t fit his preferred narrative.
On a more positive note, there are at least some signs the European Union isn’t quite as willing to scrap the deal as is the American administration, which could complicate Trump’s prospective attempt to de-certify in 90 days.
Meanwhile, a new round of sanctions was imposed on six Iranian entities with ties to the country’s ballistic missile program last Friday after the Islamic Republic successfully launched a satellite into orbit.
While the launch marked a step forward for Iran’s space program, the United States, Britain, France and Germany blasted the Iranians, claiming the launch was “inconsistent” with the UN resolution which underlies the nuclear deal.
“We condemn this action,” the four countries said in a joint statement. “We call on Iran not to conduct any further ballistic missile launches and related activities.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pushed back on Friday, insisting Iran is compliant with the nuclear deal, but added that Washington is not.
“Iran—unlike the U.S.—has complied in good faith with the letter and spirit of JCPOA,” Zarif tweeted on Friday. “Rhetoric and actions from U.S. show bad faith. Every word of JCPOA carefully negotiated. Iran does not develop missiles that are ‘designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.’ Iran is not and will not be developing nuclear weapons; so by definition cannot develop anything designed to be capable of delivering them.”
Yet another round of sanctions was also passed on Saturday in the Senate against Iran, Russia and North Korea, adding another item to the spate of hostile actions toward the Islamic Republic in recent weeks. The sanctions bill won in the Senate 98-2, just a few days after the House pushed it through by an overwhelming margin of 419-3.
While the sanctions pertaining to Iran and North Korea are less surprising, Trump’s support of the Russia sanctions represents the latest disavowal of the president’s promise to improve relations with Moscow, which has been largely off the table amid rampant accusations of Russian collusion and election tampering.
While his presidency initially gave tentative hope to non-interventionists for a rollback of some of America’s overseas blunders, Trump has thus far capitulated almost completely to the War Party and its demand for perpetual, irrational hawkishness. The “Washington playbook” is alive and well in the White House, despite occasional appearances to the contrary.
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Contributed by Will Porter of The Daily Sheeple.