Trump has raised the hackles of global powers by marching lock-step with Israel, which has persistently tried to torpedo the Iran nuclear deal while ironically claiming that Iran is building its arsenal to menace its neighbors.
WASHINGTON — While the international community is continuing to urge U.S. President Donald Trump to step back from his clear intention to kill the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the U.S. leader continues to defy the diplomatic path with an unrelenting hostile policy against the Islamic Republic and threats to revive sanctions against Tehran if Western powers don’t modify alleged “terrible flaws” in the accord by May 12.
Trump’s insistence that world powers renegotiate the deal comes despite sharp statements from Iran’s top diplomat that any attempt to tack on new requirements on the deal would be a non-starter and would effectively kill the accord.
In a video statement released Thursday on various social media platforms, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that his country “will not renegotiate what was agreed years ago and has been implemented.”
Let me make it absolutely clear and once and for all: we will neither outsource our security nor will we renegotiate or add onto a deal we have already implemented in good faith.”
Poking fun at Trump’s background as a high-profile real estate magnate, Zarif drily added:
To put it in real estate terms, when you buy a house and move your family in, or demolish it to build a skyscraper, you cannot come back two years later and renegotiate the price.”
Watch | A Message from Iran
Under the stipulations of the six-party Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. The accord was the result of more than a year of negotiations among Iran, Germany, and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States — and has been endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
Zarif, however, noted Thursday that the U.S. has “consistently violated the nuclear deal, particularly by bullying others to prevent businesses from returning to Iran,” through continued sanctions meant to block Iran from fully integrating into the global economy and receiving foreign investment from European businesses and major banks.
Trump waffles on how best to sabotage the deal
Trump has raised the hackles of global powers by marching lock-step with Israel, which has persistently tried to torpedo the deal while ironically claiming that Iran is building its arsenal to menace its neighbors.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered what he called “clear evidence” of the so-called “Project Amad,” an alleged past nuclear arms program by Iran. Many analysts saw the presentation, delivered in English, as oriented to a Washington audience, specifically Trump, and meant to undermine UN inspectors who have vouched for Iran’s compliance with the deal – which Netanyahu dismissed as “Iranian lies and Iranian deception.”
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi slammed Netanyahu’s speech as the “rumor-mongering and deception” typical of a “lying and scandal-hit bankrupt” official, noting the corruption and graft investigations the Israeli leader has been awash in over the past year.
Amid recent Israeli attacks on Iranian military targets in Syria, and widespread speculation that Tel Aviv is clamoring for a major offensive against Iran in the war-torn nation, the country has also attempted to corral other nations into a broader campaign to sanction Tehran and seal it off from global trade. On Thursday, hardline Soviet-born Israeli war minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke to Russian news daily Kommersant and hailed Israeli-Russian ties as well as the frank nature of talks between Tel Aviv and Moscow in a thinly-veiled threat to join the U.S.-led economic war on Russia if Moscow doesn’t join efforts to place its own weight on Tehran.
Lieberman said, according to TASS:
For example, as far as the anti-Russia sanctions go, we flatly refused to join them. Many states expelled Russian diplomats not long ago, all due to the standoff regarding the use or non-use of nerve gas and so on. Israel did not join this action. We have a normal relationship with Russia and we comprehend its interests.”
Lieberman then added that Tel Aviv expects that Moscow also “take into consideration our interests in the Middle East.”
A source close to the internal White House debate told reporters Wednesday that Trump remains undecided on the deal, and could preserve the pact in the interests of “alliance maintenance” with France and to spare French President Emmanuel Macron the humiliation of a public rebuff following his visit to the White House last week.
However, a White House source also said that Trump may end up partially pulling out of the deal, without specifying what the partial withdrawal would look like.
International community expresses annoyance, appeals to Washington
In an interview Thursday with BBC Radio 4, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres all but assured Western capitals that the only alternative to preserving the deal risks the possibility of a new war breaking out.
“If one day there is a better agreement to replace it, it’s fine, but we should not scrap it unless we have a good alternative,” Guterres added, concluding:
I believe the JCPOA (the Iran nuclear deal) was an important diplomatic victory and I think it will be important to preserve it but I also believe there are areas in which it will be very important to have a meaningful dialogue because I see the region in a very dangerous position.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying underscored Beijing’s position that the United States shouldn’t sacrifice the long-term goal of seeking diplomatic solutions to key international issues for the sake of Washington and Tel Aviv’s own parochial goals of subjugating Iran to increased international pressure – especially considering the mandate already given to existing international bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which she stressed was the only entity that enjoys the right to supervise the JCPOA.
China has long been Iran’s largest trading partner, primarily owing to its massive energy imports. Chinese oil firms have also made massive investments in Iran’s natural gas fields and hope to upgrade and expand Iran’s aged oil refineries. Following the signing of the 2015 JCPOA, Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first leader to travel to Iran, where 17 agreements were signed in the fields of energy, industry and trade. The two nations also pledged to increase their trade tenfold to $600 billion in the next decade, showing the strategic importance Beijing places on its partnership with Tehran.
On Thursday — during a press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Ayman Safadi — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also reminded Washington of its obligations and duty under the nuclear deal. Lavrov highlighted Moscow’s position that the JCPOA is a model mechanism for resolving the scandal surrounding Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program, noting:
If the U.S., as President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated, announces withdrawal from this agreement, then of course all of us, the international community, will lose one of the most important tools contributing to ensuring the non-proliferation regime for weapons of mass destruction.”
Lavrov also dismissed Netanyahu’s sensationalistic presentation on Iran’s alleged past activities as already being a factor the IAEA was aware of, adding that any new information proving that Iran seeks nuclear arms should be handed over to the UN nuclear agency.
The IAEA announced Wednesday that “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device after 2009” exist and that Tel Aviv’s so-called “evidence” reveals nothing new.
Despite the global appeals that Washington and Tel Aviv veer from their course toward conflict, however, it appears that officials in the two capitals are strategically committed to drastically rolling back Iran’s regional clout, if not affecting outright regime change in Tehran.
Top Photo | In this Sunday, April 29, 2018 file photo, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. left. is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of a press conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. (Thomas Coex, AFP via AP, File)
Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.