Tag Archive | "Iran Nuclear Deal"

The US and Iran Flex Their Muscles. The Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) One Year after US Withdrawal


NOVANEWS
Iran

One year after the US unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal (known also as JCPOA- Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action), the US is flexing its muscles by announcing an already previously scheduled departure of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group as a measure to frighten Iran and force it to the negotiation table. Iran responded by showing a video that included several US Navy in the Persian Gulf as potential targets to its forces. Both messages clearly aim to avoid a war. This is why Iran is expected to refer back to resolutions 26, 36 and 37 to send a warning to the UN to rectify the violation of the deal by the US or else Tehran will be in its legal position to “cease performing its commitments in whole or in part”. This is what President Hassan Rouhani is expected to announce tomorrow Wednesday the 8thof May, according to Iranian official sources, who expect Iran to stay in the deal for now.

“Iran doesn’t want to trigger a hostile reaction from the United Nations and its European allies, so that they do not join the US in imposing sanctions as they did in 2011. This is why Iran will remain as a signature member of the JCPOA. Today, those who praised and signed the nuclear deal are standing, if only verbally, against the US unilateral withdrawal from the deal and its imposition of one-sided sanctions”, said the official source to me.

Iran is expected to abide by the article 26, calling upon the US administration, the President and the Congress to “refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions… re-introduce or re-impose sanctions specific in Annex II”. According to article 26, US failure to respect the deal will offer Iran “ground to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part”.

Source: author

Iran is expected to invoke Article 36 that states “if Iran believed that any of the EU+3 were not meeting their commitments under this JCPOA, Iran could refer the issue to the Joint Commission for resolution…that will have 15 days to resolve the issue, unless the time period is extended by consensus”. Therefore, the Iranians responsible are not expected to go to a military war against the US but to adopt a gradual legal step before using its right to break its commitments, partially or fully.

According to Iranian sources, those in Iran calling for “an immediate and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA failed to convince the majority of decision-makers to adopt a radical approach, unless the UN and Europe (United Kingdom, France and Germany) were to fail to lift the sanctions on Iran and do nothing to support Iranian export of oil and import of needed technology and goods. Iran would then have the option of disregarding concerns related to Arak Nuclear Complex heavy water production plant to produce and reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and to restart unrestricted enrichment”.

It is clear that Iran doesn’t want to close the Strait of Hormuz, as much as it is clear that the US is not looking for a military confrontation with Iran. The US Navy, as a normal procedure, is still in regular contact with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stationed at the entrance of the Hormuz Strait, even if the IRGC is on the US terrorism list.

Source: author

The US administration would have preferred to support a Middle Eastern country willing to declare war on Iran. Nevertheless, Iran is not Yemen and has destructive fire power sufficient to dissuade any regional country from attacking it. Thus, a war with a slim chance of a favourable outcome for the West is not expected despite the rise of tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The US is failing to intimidate Iran and force it to the negotiation table. The US demands, composed of 12 points, are and will remain impossible for Iran to meet or to come close to. Iran will never withdraw from Syria unless on the request of President Bashar al-Assad, and is not in a position to cease its supports to its partners in the Middle East unless the constitution is amended. And last, Iran considers its missile production a defensive strategy against any possible aggression. This strategy reflects Iran’s experience during the Iraq-Iran war in 1980’s, when Iran was much less well equipped than it is today.

Notwithstanding overwhelming US military capabilities, the US administration is sending signals of weakness to its regional allies and to Iran. Tehran’s challenges to the US are also watched carefully by the Gulf countries who will think carefully before confronting Iran any time in the future.

President Hassan Rouhani has rejected Trump’s request for a meeting eight times. The US administration will, without any doubt, fail to bring Iran to the negotiation table by sending the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and seems incapable of imposing zero oil export on Iran. The Middle East is boiling and miscalculations can be expected. Nevertheless, it is more about a show of force than about the possibility of war.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on The US and Iran Flex Their Muscles. The Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) One Year after US Withdrawal

Bolton’s Pathetic Case for Reneging on the Nuclear Deal


John Bolton makes the weakest possible case for Trump’s decision to renege on the nuclear deal with Iran:

He decided that this deal actually undermines the security of the American people he swore to protect and, accordingly, ended U.S. participation in it. This action reversed an ill-advised and dangerous policy and set us on a new course that will address the aggressive and hostile behavior of our enemies, while enhancing our ties with partners and allies.

Iran’s nuclear program and the restrictions placed upon it by the JCPOA are notably absent from Bolton’s op-ed, because there is no credible argument to be made that the deal wasn’t doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Like other critics of the deal, Bolton focuses on everything except what the deal does because he cannot dispute the tremendous success it has had in limiting Iran’s nuclear program and establishing the most rigorous verification measures in the world. He refers to the agreement’s “abysmal record,” but he never identifies a single flaw in the agreement that the president has repeatedly denounced as the worst in the world. The deal’s record as a nonproliferation agreement has been outstanding, and that is why Bolton is desperate to change the subject to talk about anything but that.

Bolton claims that Trump’s decision “enhances” ties with “partners and allies,” but this is also risible. As far as the vast majority of our allies and other governments around the world is concerned, Bolton’s statement is absolutely untrue. The only relationship that Bolton can cite to support his claim is the one with Israel, and even this is misleading. Bolton conveniently leaves out the fact that most Israeli national security professionals are opposed to U.S. withdrawal from the agreement because they recognize the value it has for Israeli security, and instead he spends a large portion of his op-ed justifying another ill-conceived Trump decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. U.S. ties with our major European allies are already coming under significant strain as a result of Trump’s initial decision, and those ties will become increasingly strained if the administration forces the issue and tries to penalize European companies for doing business with Iran.

He calls the agreement the “failed nuclear deal,” but in terms of the only thing it was ever meant to do–restricting Iran’s nuclear program–it has been extraordinarily successful and Iran’s compliance has been verified ten times in a row. When Bolton says that the deal has “failed,” he is measuring it against an unreasonable and dishonest standard that no agreement could ever meet. The fixation of the deal’s opponents on Iran’s other, non-nuclear behavior is telling. It shows that they refuse to judge the deal on the merits and instead look for any excuse to blame the agreement for anything that Iran does that they dislike. This is akin to blaming Cold War arms control treaties for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and it is every bit as ridiculous. All of this confirms once again how pathetically weak the arguments against the deal have always been, and it is why no one except for ideologues and Trump loyalists take them seriously.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Bolton’s Pathetic Case for Reneging on the Nuclear Deal

VIPS Call on Trump Not to Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal


NOVANEWS

Image result for Iran Nuclear Deal CARTOON

 

Consortium News 

As Donald Trump announces his decision at 2 pm Tuesday on staying in the Iran nuclear deal, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity urge him in this memo exclusive to Consortium News not to base his decision on fabricated evidence.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Being “Played” By Bogus Evidence on Iran

NOTE: The evidence presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 30 alleging a covert Iranian nuclear weapons program shows blatant signs of fabrication. That evidence is linked to documents presented by the Bush Administration more a decade earlier as proof of a covert Iran nuclear weapons program. Those documents were clearly fabricated as well.

We sent President Bush a similar warning about bogus intelligence — much of it fabricated by Israel —six weeks before the U.S./UK attack on Iraq, but Bush paid us no heed. This time, we hope you will take note before things spin even further out of control in the Middle East. In short, Israel’s “new” damaging documents on Iran were fabricated by the Israelis themselves.

Executive Summary

The Bush administration account of how the documents on Iran got into the hands of the CIA is not true. We can prove that the actual documents originally came not from Iran but from Israel. And the documents were never authenticated by the CIA or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Two former Directors-General of the IAEA, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, have publicly expressed suspicion that the documents were fabricated. And forensic examination of the documents yielded multiple signs that they are fraudulent.

We urge you to insist on an independent inquiry into the actual origins of these documents. We believe that the renewed attention being given to claims that Iran is secretly working to develop nuclear weapons betokens a transparent attempt to stoke hostility toward Iran, with an eye toward helping “justify” pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

* * *

Mr. President,

We write you in the hope that you will be informed of our views before you decide whether to continue to adhere to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran. We fear that upcoming decisions may be based, in part, on unreliable documents alleging secret nuclear weapons activity in Iran.

On April 30, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu displayed some of those documents in his slide show on what he called the Iranian “atomic archive.” But those are precisely the same fraudulent documents that were acquired by the CIA in 2004.

The official accounts offered by the senior officials of the CIA about the provenance of these documents turned out be complete fabrication. Journalists were told variously that the documents (1) were taken from the laptop computer of an Iranian working in a secret research program; (2) were provided by a German spy; or (3) simply came from a “longtime contact in Iran.”

However, Karsten Voigt, the former German Foreign Office official in charge of German-North American cooperation, revealed in an on the record interview with historian/journalist Gareth Porter in 2013 that senior officials of the German foreign intelligence service, the BND, told Voigt in November 2004 that the documents had been passed to the CIA by a BND source. That source, the senior BND official said, was not considered trustworthy, because he belonged to the Mujahideen-E-Khalq (MEK), the armed Iranian opposition group that was known to have served as a conduit for information that Israeli intelligence (Mossad) wanted to provide to the IAEA without having it attributed to Israel. (In 2012 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed MEK from the list of terrorist organizations.)

Voigt recalled that the senior BND officials told him of their worry that the Bush administration was going to repeat the error of using fraudulent intelligence, as was the case with the notorious “Curveball”, the Iraqi living in Germany, whom the BND had identified as unreliable. Nonetheless, Curveball’s fictions about mobile biological weapons laboratories in Iraq —with “artists renderings” by the CIA of those phantom labs — had been used by Colin Powell in his error-ridden presentation to the UN on February 5, 2003, leading to war on Iraq.

As for the purported Iranian documents, the CIA never ruled out the possibility that they were fabricated, and the IAEA made no effort to verify their authenticity. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei recalled in his memoirs that he had believed the documents were not really from the Iranian government and that, as he put it, “it made more sense that this information originated in another country.” ElBaradei stated publicly from 2005 through 2009 that the documents had not been authenticated, and he refused to use them as “evidence” of a covert Iranian weapons research program. And ElBaradei’s predecessor as Director-General, Hans Blix, has said he is “somewhat more worried” about the intelligence on the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program than about the dubious intelligence he saw on Iraq, because “there is as much disinformation as there is information.”

Each of the documents mentioned by both Netanyahu and the IAEA reports bears tell-tale signs of fraud. The most widely reported document in the collection is a set of schematic drawings showing efforts to redesign the re-entry vehicle of Iran’s Shahab-3 missile to accommodate a nuclear weapon. But the slide that Netanyahu displayed on the screen in his slide show provides visual confirmation of fraud. The drawing shows clearly the “dunce cap” design of the Shahab-3 reentry vehicle. But Iran’s Defense Ministry had already discarded that “dunce cap” reentry vehicle when it began to develop a new improved missile. That redesign began in 2000, according to the Congressional testimony in September 2000 of CIA national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs Robert D. Walpole. But the earliest dates of any of the alleged Iranian nuclear weapon program documents on the project for redesign of the reentry vehicle in the May 2008 IAEA report on the entire collection are from summer 2002 after the “dunce cap” was replaced. The “baby-bottle” shaped reentry vehicle on the redesigned missile was not known to the outside world until the first test of the new missile in mid-2004. So those drawings could not have been done by someone who was actually involved in the redesign of the original Shahab-3 reentry vehicle; it was clearly the work of a foreign intelligence agency seeking to incriminate Iran, but slipping up on one important detail and thus betraying its fraudulent character.

The second document from that same collection turned over to the IAEA that has been widely reported is the so-called “green salt project” — a plan for a bench-scale system of uranium conversion for enrichment given the code name “Project 5.13” and part of a larger “Project 5”. Other documents that had been provided by the MEK showed that “Project 5” also included a sub-project involving ore processing at a mine designated “Project 5.15,” according to a briefing by IAEA Deputy Director Olli Heinonen in February 2008.

But when Iran turned over detailed documents to the IAEA in response to its questions about Project 5.15 in 2008, the IAEA learned the truth: there had been a real ore processing project called Project 5.15, but it was a civilian project of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran – not part of a covert nuclear weapons program—and the decision to create Project 5.15 had been made on August 25, 1999—more than two years before the initial date of the project found in the collection of supposedly secret nuclear weapons research documents. That fact gives away the ruse surrounding the numbering system of “Project 5″ adopted by intelligence specialists who had fabricated the document.

A third document that purportedly shows Iranian nuclear weapons research is about what Netanyahu called “Multi-Point Initiation in hemispheric geometry” and the IAEA called “experimentation in connection with symmetrical initiation of a hemispherical high explosive charge suitable for an implosion type nuclear device.” Significantly, that document was not part of the original collection that the CIA had passed to the IAEA, but had been given to the IAEA years later, and officials from the IAEA, Europe and the United States refused to reveal which member country had provided the document. Former Director-General ElBaradei revealed in his memoirs, however, that Israel had passed a series of documents to the IAEA in 2008-09, in an effort to make the case that Iran had continued its nuclear weapons experiments until “at least 2007.”

The summary picture we offer above includes unusually clear evidence of the fraudulent nature of the documents that are advertised as hard evidence of Iran’s determination to obtain nuclear weapons. One remaining question is cui bono? — who stands to benefit from this kind of “evidence.” The state that had the most to gain from the fabrication of such documents was obviously Israel.

Completely absent from the usual discussion of this general problem is the reality that Israel already has a secret nuclear arsenal of more than a hundred nuclear weapons. To the extent Israel’s formidable deterrent is more widely understood, arguments that Israel genuinely fears an Iranian nuclear threat any time soon lose much of their power. Only an extreme few suggest that Iran’s leaders are bent on risking national suicide. What the Israelis are after is regime change in Tehran. And they have powerful allies with similar aims.

We therefore urge you, Mr. President, not to go along with these plans or to decide to pull the U.S. out of the six-nation nuclear deal with Iran based on fraudulent evidence.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Kathleen Christison, Senior Analyst on Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain,Wing Commander, RAAF (ret.); Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou,former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Edward Loomis,NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern,former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray,former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce,MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Gareth Porter, author/journalist (associate VIPS)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq

This Memorandum was drafted by VIPS Associate Gareth Porter, author of “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare,” 2014

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on VIPS Call on Trump Not to Pull Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

US Likely Took Course to Demolish Iran Nuclear Deal 


NOVANEWS

Russia, as well as the European Union, remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, despite the recent US waiver of sanctions against the country.

Moscow would oppose any attempts to undermine the existing nuclear agreement between P5+1 countries and Iran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has stated.

“The JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] cannot be amended and we will oppose any attempts to hamper it,” Ryabkov said.

The minister went on by saying that Trump’s move raises questions concerning his negotiability on international issues, adding that Moscow will insistently explain to Washington the viciousness of its sanction policy towards both Tehran and Pyongyang.

“We have a very negative stance on yesterday’s decisions and statements announced by Washington, our worst expectations are coming true,” Ryabkov said commenting on Trump’s words, saying that the US thus demonstrate their preference for the use of power to solve issues.

The minister underlined that statements by US President Donald Trump will be very carefully studied in the DPRK and other countries and may influence the existing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“According to our estimates, our American colleagues act in such a way as to constantly find opportunities to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula. Despite the signs that there has been some shift in the direction toward political dialogue, here we also note intra-Korean contacts, which are very important — despite this, Washington is looking for ways to constantly remind everyone, including in Northeast Asia, that it is committed to pressuring and methods of force, and, using this same American terminology, keeping all the options on the table,” the deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

The diplomat added that there was no sense in overestimating Trump’s decision on waiving the sanctions, as the United States was seeking to undermine the JCPOA and is reinforcing a categorical approach to Iran-related issues.

“The prospect of the US withdrawal from the Iran deal will deliver a very serious blow to the whole system of international agreements and to the enhancing of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Ryabkov said.

Speaking about a new deal on Iran, which the US has claimed to elaborate, the minister stressed that Moscow could hardly understand how it might look like.

“We do not understand what our American colleagues mean when they start to negotiate the development of some new agreement, which, as they think, will ‘correct the shortcomings’ of the existing agreement,” Ryabkov said.

“It has been announced in advance that Iran, Russia and China are not invited to negotiations concerning this agreement. This is the US’ decision, the content of the talks and their subject is unclear. But for us, strictly speaking, they are of little interest because the JCPOA is not subject to correction,” Ryabkov stressed.

US Sanctions

“Of course, the decisions on enlargement of the sanction list [as for Iran] by including 14 individuals and entities, including the citizens of foreign states, not only the Iranian institutions and organizations, spark concerns,” Ryabkov has commented on the US sanctions on 14 individuals and entities over Iran’s human rights abuses and ballistic missile program, including the ones from China and Malaysia.

The minister called on the international community to consolidate efforts aimed at securing the Iranian nuclear deal.

“We think that in this context, the international community should double its efforts aimed at consolidation of the approach to the protection of the JCPOA shared by Russia, the Europeans and China in favor of its strict and full implementation by all the participants,” Ryabkov said.

The statement was made in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement on January 12 of his decision to waive sanctions on Iran as required by the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Trump, however, specified it would be the last time he signs the waiver unless the deal is modified.

This move follows the common path the US president took in relation to the Islamic Republic ever since his election campaign. When elected, he reaffirmed opposition to the deal officially in late October 2017, refusing to re-certify it and accusing Tehran of violating the spirit of the agreement.

However, the president still does not contest Tehran’s compliance with the deal at the international level, while at the same time not excluding the possibility of withdrawing from the deal if the agreement is not improved. Other JCPOA signatories have called on the United States to comply with the agreement’s provisions, saying that the deal had yielded results and was non-negotiable.

READ MORE:

Trump Decides to Extend Iran Sanctions Waiver, But for the Last Time — WH

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on US Likely Took Course to Demolish Iran Nuclear Deal 

John Kerry: ”Israel Was Pushing Us to Bomb Iran before Nuclear Deal” ‘Video’


NOVANEWS
 

According to former US Secretary of State John Kerry Israel and Egypt were pushing the US to “bomb Iran” before the nuclear deal was struck in 2015. He added that a number of kings and presidents told the US that a military action was the only language Iran would understand.

Kerry emphasized the role of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was “genuinely agitating toward action.”

Kerry made the statement during a forum in Washington. He defended the deal and said that the military action suggestions were a “trap”. According to the former US secretary of state, the same countries would have publicly criticized the U.S. if it did carry out a bombing of Iran as they were secretly supporting.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Iran nuclear deal made during the Obama presidency. Trump vowed to reconsider the terms and conditions of the deal and to put an additional pressure on Iran. These statements faced a very cold response from Tehran, which is against any deals that would limit his sovereignty.

Featured image is from South Front.

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, IranComments Off on John Kerry: ”Israel Was Pushing Us to Bomb Iran before Nuclear Deal” ‘Video’

Former Nazi Intel Chief Calls on Trump Not to Quit Nuclear Deal with Iran


NOVANEWS
Image result for IRAN Nuclear Deal CARTOON

The US President is facing an October 15 deadline to certify that Iran is complying with its terms under “the P5+1” nuclear deal. A senior US administration official said that the US leader is expected to quit the pact. Former Israeli intel chief Amos Yadlin, however, called on Trump to wait for better timing, which would create more pressure.

On Monday, former Israeli Defense Forces military chief Amos Yadlin, who is also the head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), co-authored an essay with his INSS fellow and former National Security Council official Avner Golov, urging the US President against leaving the agreement.

Among the arguments provided by the authors was that any US steps at the moment “would lack European backing, let alone backing from Russia and China,” who are also parties to the deal.

The former military intelligence chief explained that first the US “must get its allies lined up for new UN resolutions against Iranian ballistic missile testing,” the Jerusalem Post quotes him as saying. “However, as the expiration date on the deal’s restrictions get closer, these countries will naturally become more worried about Iran trying to break out with a nuclear weapon and will be more ready to confront it,” the authors suggested.

“Instead of trying to end the Iran nuclear deal now, the US should pressure Iran with the threat of leaving the deal at a more strategic moment,” the authors concluded.

They also referred to a range of top US defense officials who oppose quitting the deal now, although they would support tougher inspections of Iran’s military nuclear sites and restrictions on Iran’s testing of advanced uranium centrifuges.

Ultimately, they say, “any decision by Trump to decertify the deal should be used by the US Congress and the West to raise pressure on Iran for a later battle, but not to leave the deal now and free Iran to go nuclear while blaming the US.”

Last week, a senior US administration official said that President Trump is expected to announce that he will decertify the landmark deal, more properly called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed in 2015 between Tehran, the five Security Council powers and Germany. The US leader had previously called the deal “an embarrassment” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

SEE ALSO:

Lavrov Calls Reports of Trump’s Plans to Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal Rumors

Posted in USA, ZIO-NAZI, IranComments Off on Former Nazi Intel Chief Calls on Trump Not to Quit Nuclear Deal with Iran

Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal?


Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal? Or Is That the Least of Our Problems When It Comes to US-Iranian Relations?

By Rajan Menon, TomDispatch

President-elect Donald Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, on January 9, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Hagen / The New York Times)

President-elect Donald Trump in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, on January 9, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Hagen / The New York Times)

Stack up the op-eds and essays on the disasters that await the world once Donald Trump moves into the White House and you’ll have a long list of dismaying scenarios.

One that makes the lineups of most pundits involves a crisis with Iran. So imagine this. Trump struts to the podium for his first presidential press conference, the trademark jutting jaw prominent. He’s spent the previous several days using Twitter to trash the nuclear agreement with Iran, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Unlike former President Barack Obama, Trump loves drama. But the JCPOA runs 159 pages, so he can’t literally tear it up on live television as part of his performance. (And no, it’s not the small hands problem.) Instead, he announces that the nuclear deal is a dead letter, effective immediately.

Could he really do that? Pretty much — through an executive order stating that the United States will no longer abide by the accord and reinstituting the American sanctions that were lifted once the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) certified Iran’s compliance with the agreement and it survived a vote in Congress.

There’s a reason Trump might choose to quash the Iran nuclear deal in this manner. As the State Department put it in November 2015, responding to a clarification request from Congressman Mike Pompeo, a sworn enemy of the agreement and Trump’s pick to head the Central Intelligence Agency, the JCPOA “is not a treaty or an executive agreement, and is not a signed document… [It] reflects political commitments between Iran, the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China), and the European Union. As you know the United States has a long-standing practice of addressing sensitive problems that culminate in political commitments.” Assuming that Trump would bother providing a nuanced defense of his decision, he could simply claim that the Obama administration had cut a global political deal that lacked legal standing and that, as he’d said repeatedly during the campaign, was also a terrible deal.

There’s not much Congress would be able to do. Indeed, Trump might not even face significant resistance from its members because the agreement never had deep support there. In May 2015, even before the negotiators had signed the JCPOA, Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), asserting its right to scrutinize the terms of the accord within 60 days of its conclusion and vote to approve or disapprove it. That bill passed 98-1 in the Senate. The lone dissenter was Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton, who demanded that “a nuclear arms agreement with an adversary, especially the terrorist-sponsoring Islamist regime,” be submitted to the chamber as a treaty, in which case approval would have required a two-thirds majority. The vote in the House for INARA, 400-25, showed a similar lack of enthusiasm.

Pending Congressional review, the INARA barred the Obama administration from lifting or easing the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. And it imposed short deadlines for submitting the agreement to Congress and for a report on verification: five days for each task. On top of that, the Act mandated a semi-annual report on matters outside the scope of the agreement, including money laundering by Iran and its planning of, or support for, terrorism “against the United States or a United States person anywhere in the world.”

The nuclear agreement was signed on July 14, 2015, and that September 11th, the House voted against it, 269 (including 25 Democrats) to 162. Barely a week later, Senate Democrats managed to muster 58 votes to prevent a resolution of disapproval from moving forward. So yes, the Obama administration prevailed — the vote tally in the House was insufficient to override a veto — but the results showed yet again that support for the Iran deal was barely knee deep, which means that President Trump won’t face much of a problem with legislators if he decides to scrap it.

Why the Nuclear Deal Is Worth the Bother

And that possibility can’t be ruled out. Not only does Trump routinely act on impulse, he has attacked the JCPOA, during and after the campaign, as (among other things) “stupid,” a “lopsided disgrace,” and, in a classic Trumpism, the “worst deal ever negotiated.”

“My number-one priority,” he proclaimed in March while addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which did its best to sink the agreement, “is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” He called it “catastrophic for America, for Israel, and for the whole of the Middle East.” Iran, he added, got $150 billion in sanctions relief (mainly from the unfreezing of assets it held overseas) “but we received absolutely nothing in return.” As recently as December in a “stay strong” tweet to Israel following the Security Council’s condemnation of that country’s settlements on the West Bank (which the Obama administration refused to veto), Trump referred again to the “horrible Iran deal.”

Trump’s inner circle has also demonized the agreement. In a July 2015 interview, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, warned that, by enabling the lifting of nuclear sanctions, the JCPOA had given Iran extra money for strengthening its military and promoting terrorism, while offering the United States “nothing but grief” in return. The verification measures, he added, were mere “promises,” and the agreement’s text “read like a high school paper.” Speaking to supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, in October, Vice President-elect Mike Pence pledged that Trump would “rip up” the agreement once in office. As for Mike Pompeo, amid reports in November that he would be the new CIA director, the congressman said, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

While Trump has yet to pick his Deputy Secretary of State, among the top contenders appears to be John Bolton, a former ambassador to the UN beloved by his fellow neoconservatives. Bolton, unsurprisingly, also abhors the Iran deal. While the talks were still underway, he labeled them “an unprecedented act of surrender,” adding that he couldn’t imagine any worthwhile agreement with Iran because its leaders were hell-bent on building nuclear weapons. The best way to deal with that country in his view was to promote regime change there. Nor did he alter his position once the agreement took effect. In a November op-ed, he advised Trump “to abrogate the Iran nuclear deal in his first days in office.”

Given the right wing’s barrage against that deal and the looming Trump presidency, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Iran nuclear deal is anything but the catastrophe its critics claim it to be. It’s an achievement worth defending, but to understand just why, you have to put on your policy-wonk hat for a few moments and do exactly the sort of thing that Donald Trump seems to like least: plunge into the sometimes abstruse details of that small-print, 159-page report. So fair warning, here goes.

The agreement, in fact, blocks the two paths Iran could take to build nuclear weapons, one based on uranium, the other on plutonium. Recall that Iran went from 164 centrifuges in 2003 to 19,000 by the time the negotiations on what would become the JCPOA started in 2013. (Centrifuges spin uranium hexafluoride, UF-6, at high velocity to achieve the 90% concentration of the Uranium-235 isotope needed to make nuclear weapons.) Under the agreement, Iran can retain a maximum of 5,060 centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow sites, and they must be the older 1R-1 models. The surplus stock of those as well as all the more advanced IR-4, 5, 6, and 8 models must be placed in continuously monitored storage. Together, Fordow and Natanz could house more than 50,000 centrifuges of various types; so quantitatively and qualitatively, the ceilings set by the JCPOA are very significant.

The agreement also bars Iran from enriching uranium beyond 3.167% — nowhere near the concentration required for building a nuclear bomb. Enrichment can occur only at the Natanz plant; the two centrifuge cascades permitted at the Fordow facility can’t be used for this purpose. Moreover, Iran can retain no more than 300 kilograms of uranium enriched even to this level for research use and medical purposes, which means that its stock of low-enriched uranium (LEU) will be cut by 98%. Iran is also prohibited from building additional plants for uranium enrichment.

Nuclear weapons can be built with plutonium as well, specifically Plutonium-239 (PU-239), but the JCPOA blocks that path, too. It requires that Iran’s (unfinished) heavy water reactor at Arak be redesigned so that it can be fueled only with LEU. In the meantime, the reactor has been disabled and concrete poured into its core. In the future, Iran is banned from reprocessing plutonium produced by the reactor or building reprocessing facilities and must export the reactor’s spent fuel. Its stocks of heavy water, used as a coolant in reactors, cannot exceed 130 metric tons; any excess must be exported.

Such an agreement, of course, can be no better than the provisions that verify its implementation. To build nuclear weapons, Iran would have to breach several of the JCPOA’s provisions and persist with various prohibited activities. Given the multiple means of verification at hand, that’s virtually impossible. As International Atomic Energy Agency documents detail, Iranian nuclear installations will be under constant surveillance involving electronic seals and online monitoring (which relay information on uranium enrichment), as well as on-site inspections.

The last of these mechanisms is especially significant because the agreement also requires that Iran accept the terms of the 1997 Additional Protocol that strengthened the monitoring agreements the IAEA has reached with signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). States that implement the Protocol must permit on-site inspections by the IAEA’s technical teams, sometimes on short notice. As it now happens, Iran is committed to implementing the Protocol not just for the 15-year lifespan of the agreement, but for as long as it remains party to the NPT.

Finally there’s the procedure for resolving disputes about verification. I’ll skip the details on this and just cut to the chase: Iran can’t stretch out the process or sanctions will resume under a “snapback” provision, and while a Security Council resolution could theoretically lift those sanctions, the United States could veto it.

Turning Up the Heat on Iran: Trump’s Plan

In other words, the Iran deal couldn’t be more worth saving if your urge in life is not to have Iran join the “nuclear club.” It essentially ensures that reality and, according to a December 2016 poll, more than 60% of Americans are pleased that it exists. But don’t assume that public support, stringent verification processes, and a dispute resolution procedure stacked against Iran will necessarily immunize the agreement from Trump, who is not exactly a details guy. Nor does he spend much time listening to experts because, well, he’s so smart that he knows all the answers. (Besides, if he needs additional information, he can always turn to “the shows,” his apparent go-to source for crucial military information.) As for the members of his entourage, they’ve made it plain en masse that they have no use for the agreement.

Still, don’t consider it a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump will scrap the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action peremptorily and permanently either, even though he’s repeatedly denounced the deal. After all, he’s also said that he’d consider renegotiating its terms to ensure that it meets his (unspecified) standards. As usual, he’s been all over the map.

Consider this: in September 2015, during an appearance on “Morning Joe,” he told The Washington Post’s David Ignatius that the United States had signed “a disastrous deal in so many ways… We have a horrible contract.” But then, in effect invoking the sanctity of contracts, he added, “I’d love to tell you I’m gonna rip up this contract, I’m going to be the toughest guy in the world. But you know what? Life doesn’t work that way.” His solution back then: make sure Iran fulfills its part of the bargain.

And among the various positions he took on the agreement over those months, he wasn’t alone in taking that one. Once the nuclear deal became a reality, others who had doggedly opposed it began to call for monitoring Iran’s compliance rather than scrapping it. In November, Walid Phares, one of Trump’s top advisers on the Middle East, hedged in this fashion: Trump, he insisted, would “take the agreement, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion.”

In an April speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, retired General James Mattis, Trump’s choice for secretary of defense, called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” That said, however, he then cautioned that the United States “would be alone” if it tore up the Iran deal and that “unilateral sanctions would not have anywhere near the impact of an allied approach to this.” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee and a fervent critic of the agreement, as well as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a one-time contender to be Trump’s secretary of state, made exactly the same point once it took effect.

And the same can be said not just about the various Iranophobes soon to populate the Trump administration but about whole countries. Israel and Saudi Arabia both lobbied feverishly against the agreement. Now that it’s in effect, however, neither seems to be pushing the president-elect to abandon it.

And even if he were to do so, Europe, China, and Russia wouldn’t follow suit, which would mean that their companies, not American ones, would reap the benefits of doing business with Iran. Some 29 European and Asian companies have already concluded energy agreements with Iran or are on course to do so. Given its continuing economic difficulties, the European Union (EU) would have no reason to take a hit by disavowing an agreement in which it had invested so much time and that will benefit so many of its businesses like Airbus (which in December signed a contract to sell Iran 100 planes). In November, the EU’s foreign ministers reaffirmed their support for the Iran deal, increasing the likelihood that Trump would risk a rupture with them if he withdrew from it.

In addition, doing so unilaterally would essentially be senseless. American companies like Boeing, which signed a deal worth nearly $17 billion with Iran in December, would forfeit such opportunities. Would Trump, who presents himself as the ultimate dealmaker and vows to create millions of jobs in the United States, really like to take credit for that? Again, it’s hard to tell given the consistency of his inconsistency. After all, he initially criticized the Boeing deal, only later to complain that Iran might buy from Europe, not America. We’ll know where he stands, should those in Congress who have tried to block the Boeing aircraft sale persist.

Even if Trump doesn’t withdraw from the nuclear deal, don’t for a second assume that he won’t turn up the heat on Iran, which remains subject to various American non-nuclear sanctions aimed at its ballistic missile program, human rights record, and support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Bear in mind that, in December, Congress extended — with only one dissenting vote in the House and unanimity in the Senate — the Iran Sanctions Act for another decade. And Trump could, in fact, expand these penalties, as several conservatives have urged him to do. Vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council Ilan Berman, for example, recommends extending the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to Iran on the grounds that Trump could then use “visa bans, asset freezes, and commercial blacklists” to punish any of its officials engaged in corruption or human rights violations.  

The new president could go even further by following the recommendation of Council on Foreign Relations Iran expert Ray Takeyh. In December, Takeyh argued that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, “is presiding over a state with immense vulnerabilities, and the task of US policy is to exploit all of them.” Takeyh’s ultimate aim is regime change, and he believes that “the United States has a real capacity to shrink Iran’s economy and bring it to the brink of collapse.”

So despite Donald Trump’s bluster, there’s at least a reasonable likelihood that he won’t summon the press to announce the Iran nuclear deal’s strangulation at his hands. But instead of being a rare dose of good news, that could well come as cold comfort. Under Trump, the Iranian-American relationship is essentially guaranteed to get a whole lot worse, whatever happens to the treaty itself. Even if Trump does adhere to the agreement, he could easily attempt to show both his contempt for the Iranians and his resolve by getting tough in a host of other ways.

There are plenty of potential collision points, including in Iran’s coastal waters along that crucial oil route, the Persian Gulf, as well as in Lebanon, in Syria (where Iranian forces and advisers are fighting for autocrat Bashar al-Assad), and in Yemen (where Houthi insurgents aligned with Iran are being bombarded by Saudi warplanes, with devastating consequences for civilians). Israel and Saudi Arabia may no longer be fixated on torpedoing the nuclear agreement itself, but once the Obama administration is history they may also feel freed of any restraints from Washington when it comes to Iran. Certainly, key Republicans (and not a few Democrats) will back the Israelis in any kind of confrontation with that country. Both the Israelis and the Saudis have made no secret of the fact that they considered Obama soft on Iran, and they are likely to be emboldened once Trump enters the White House.

Should either of them clash with Iran, the stage will be set for a potentially direct military confrontation between Tehran and Washington. In other words, there may not be a potentially more combustible spot on the planet. So we may be missing the point by speculating on what Trump will do to the Iran deal. The real question is what he’ll do to Iran — and just how disastrous the consequences of that may be.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Will Trump Shred the Iran Nuclear Deal?


Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

November 2019
M T W T F S S
« Oct    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930