• The U.S. is Playing with Fire if It Walks Away from the Iran Nuclear Deal on May 12

    May 5, 2018

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    Posted in: Iran, Trump



    A foreign policy crisis is coming May 12. President Donald Trump’s likely decision on that day to not continue waiving sanctions on Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will significantly increase the chances of war.

    The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed by China, Russia, and most of western Europe requires the American president to certify every three months Iran’s nuclear program is in compliance with the deal. In return, the next quarter’s economic sanctions are waived against the Islamic Republic. Earlier this year, Trump warned he was waiving sanctions for the final time, setting a May 12 deadline for significant changes in the agreement to be made. Failing those changes, Trump’s non-signature would trigger sanctions to snap into place.

    The changes Trump is insisting on — reduce Iran’s ballistic missile capability, renegotiate the deal’s end date, and allow unrestricted inspections — are designed to force failure.

    Iran’s ballistic missile program was purposefully never part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; as learned during the Cold War, trying to throw every problem into the same pot assured no agreement could ever be reached. Trump trying to add the missile program in three years after the agreement was signed is wholly outside the norms of diplomacy (and the art of dealmaking.) Ballistic missile capability lies at the heart of Iran’s defense. Sanctions have already kept the country from fielding any significant air force, and memories in Tehran of Iraqi air strikes on its cities in the 1980s when Iran lacked retaliatory capability lie deep. The missile program is the cornerstone of Iranian self-preservation and thus understood to be non-negotiable.

    The 2030 agreement end date is to the Trump administration a ticking time bomb; Iran will nefariously lie in wait, springing whole into nuclear status 12 years from now. Leaving aside the original agreement was negotiated with such a deadline, and American policy has generally been for presidents to honor agreements in place as they take office, the worry over an Iran of the future going nuclear is pure drama.

    Twelve years is a lifetime in the Middle East. Some 12 years ago Syria was at peace with its neighbors, and the United States happy to outsource torture to Assad as part of the War on Terror. Turkey was a democracy, Russia mostly a non-player in the region, and Iran was timidly facing the American military on two of its borders, open to broad negotiations with Washington. There is more than enough to focus on in the Middle East of 2018 than what the area might look like strategically in 2030, even assuming Iran could surreptitiously keep its nuclear development going such to pop out of the cake in 12 years with a nuclear surprise. Washington’s demand for an indefinite extension of limits on Iran’s nuclear activities is political theatre.

    As for the concern Iran is not compliant with the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations body charged with monitoring the deal, has presented no such evidence. Iran has in fact shown itself anxious to stay in compliance; in two past minor instances where the Agency noted Iran exceeded its heavy water limits, Tehran immediately disposed of the excessive amount. Trump has suggested he wants unprecedented access to any and all Iranian sites, including military sites not known to be part of any nuclear program. The United States never allowed carte blanche to the Soviets during the Cold War, no nation with the power to say no would. Following the inspections ahead of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, where intelligence officers were embedded in the process and the results politicized, American credibility for this ask is low.

    So these aren’t really negotiating points, they’re excuses for the United States itself to step out of compliance with an agreement. “President Trump appears to have presented the [Europeans] with a false choice: either kill the deal with me, or I’ll kill it alone,’ said Rob Malley, a senior American negotiator of the deal, and now head of the International Crisis Group.

    None of this is a surprise. Trump has always wanted out of what he calls the “worst deal ever.” His new foreign policy team — Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton — are also ardent opponents. While anything can happen inside a White House fueled by chaos, there is no plausible scenario that says the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will survive May 12. What happens next?

    The likely effects of walking away from the agreement are global. Iran may immediately kick start its nuclear program. Tehran’s hegemonic efforts in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria would remain untouched if not intensify in retaliation. Iran’s current missiles will still be able to reach Jerusalem and Riyadh. The odds of the North Koreans agreeing to a nuclear deal decrease; imagine being the new State Department envoy sitting across from an experienced North Korean diplomat trying to answer his question “What is to say you won’t do this to us in three years?”

    European allies will be reluctant to join in future diplomatic heavy lifting in the Middle East or elsewhere, shy to commit only to see the Americans turn up their noses following another election. Relations could easily sink to the level of 2003, when America’s bullheaded invasion of Iraq split the alliance. Russia and China, signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, will have a chance at being the “good guys,” seizing an opening to expand cooperation with Iran at a time when American diplomacy might instead be looking for ways to drive wedges among them.

    Meanwhile, the impact of renewed sanctions may be quite limited strategically. It is unclear if American pique will be followed by all of Europe falling into line with re-imposed sanctions; there is a lot of money in doing business in Iran and absent unambiguous proof Iran violated the agreement it is hard to see them going along in earnest. It is even less clear Russia and China will follow the new sanctions regime. And even if some signatories agree to reimpose sanctions, there is little to suggest Iran’s ambitions have been severely thwarted by decades of sanctions anyway. Had they been fully effective, there’d have been no need for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in the first place.

    Without the agreement, there is, to misquote Churchill, nothing left to “jaw jaw,” leaving Iran free to develop its weapons and America only the option of destroying them. It’s perhaps the dangerous scenario Washington, encouraged by an Israel who has sought the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities for years, wants. The Israeli air strikes which decimated Saddam’s nuclear program and Syria’s were small scale, directed against nearby, discrete targets, vulnerable above ground. Not so for Iran, whose nuclear facilities are far away, dispersed, underground, and protected by both a decent air defense system and a credible threat of conventional, terrorist, cyber, and/or chemical retaliation. And that’s all before the newly-emboldened Russians weigh in.

    The chance of terminating Iran’s nuclear program is held against the risk of full-on war in the region. The United States is playing with real fire if it walks away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on May 12.




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    Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      You do mean ” Trump is playing with fire”, nichtwahr?

      The fallacies inherent in Netanyahu’s outdated and proven fraudulent presentation wwere meant to fool no one, only an audience of one—Donald Trump. Of course, the little dick-tator, regardless of the veracity of the information used to underpin it, will use it to bolster a decision he has already made to withdraw from the JCPOA. Will this dumbass country fall for it…again?

      So you say, “Once Trump withdraws from the JCPOA, there will be no turning back; Israel’s hyped up claims will never be subjected to the kind of scrutiny decisions of this magnitude would seem to demand. Think again.

      Let us first remove this Demented national security menace in January 2019, then take on the other national security menace in Bibi land.

      Let’s investigate the Israeli connection in the Anthrax terrorist attack and the framejobs on Hatfill and Irvins. What were all those Israelis students doing in Florida at the time the 9-11 perps were meeting?

      Trump knows this country is sick and tired of war and broke. That got him elected over Killery.

      Let crazy Nutandyahoo fight his own war, if Iran is as much a threat as he thinks. Cut off military assistance to Israel.

      And if our intelligence agencies support Nuttyahoo’s flawed intelligence, cut them out too.

      Then we can truly say, “Mission Accomplished.”

      05/5/18 10:55 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      2

      The Florida Anthrax con-nection

      Oops- Justice Department lawyers filed a brief that said Bruce Ivins did not have access to equipment in the Fort Detrick hot suites that would have enabled him to make the dried anthrax found in letters to two Senators. … the filing in a Florida court did not explain where or how Ivins could have made the powder, saying only that the lab “did not have the specialized equipment’’ in Ivins’ secure lab “that would be required to prepare the dried spore preparations that were used in the letters.” The filing was in response to a lawsuit against the government filed by the family of Bob Stevens, the first person to die from mailed anthrax in 2001.

      So Irvins could NOT have done it.

      Israel has had Anthrax weapon programs since the 1990s. Someone wanted US to believe the perp wanted death to Israel. Hmmmm….

      05/5/18 11:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      3

      The Trump Collusion –

      Trump aides hired an Israeli private intelligence agency to orchestrate a “dirty ops” campaign against key individuals from the Obama administration who helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, the Observer can reveal.

      People in the Trump camp contacted private investigators in May last year to “get dirt” on Ben Rhodes, who had been one of Barack Obama’s top national security advisers, and Colin Kahl, deputy assistant to Obama, as part of an elaborate attempt to discredit the deal.

      -Last Straw

      Jack Straw, who as foreign secretary was involved in earlier efforts to restrict Iranian weapons, said: “These are extraordinary and appalling allegations but which also illustrate a high level of desperation by Trump and [the Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, not so much to discredit the deal but to undermine those around it.”

      Sanctions, anyone?

      05/6/18 8:51 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      4

      Life is a circle, like a snake swallowing its own tail

      To recap: Israel sends US poison pen letters implicating Iraq while Saudis send US some of their guys who can’t fly straight. Then our presidense George w. Bush destroys the Iraqi Sunnis, which allows Iranians free reign in Shia Iraq, which threatens Israel and Saudi Arabia. Then Nuttyyahoo sends US some outdated intelligence about Iran threatening US with nuclear nonsense. Gee, what will the Saudis send US next? I wouldn’t be in Trump Tower on 9-11.

      05/6/18 11:22 AM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      5

      Sigh – one step forward (regarding North Korea) and very likely two steps back (with Iran.) Hopefully this won’t come to pass, but it does seem all too likely and a terrible, terrible idea. So why the difference in approaches to North Korea and Iran? Might it have something (or everything?) to do with the difference between our two main regional allies (South Korea and Israel) involved in these disputes? Is the tail once again wagging the dog, when it comes to our foreign policy in the Middle East?

      05/7/18 2:41 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      “What is to say you won’t do it to us in three years?”

      Oh, come on. That’s like saying Trump won’t come in Stormy’s mouth. Only a fool would trust US. Yeah, we committed genocide in exterminating the Native Americans and stealing their land, and then stole Texas and California from Mexico. You can trust US…to fuck you every time we get the chance.

      05/7/18 7:50 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      Classic Projection

      Trump: The Iran deal is defective at its core.

      05/8/18 2:23 PM | Comment Link

    • teri said...

      8

      Yeah, he just pulled us out of the agreement. Buffoon. Know-nothing idiot. Fucking retard.

      I’m sure his base will be singing his praises as they happily pay $6.00/gallon for gas. ‘Cause that’ll be one of the immediate results here in Das Homeland. Later on, they can enlist, once Netanyahu, Bolton and Pompeo tell Trump when to invade Iran.

      05/8/18 2:54 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      9

      So my question still stands – is this all about President Trump the “Warhawk” and/or “idiot,” or is it more about Israel’s ability to influence our foreign policy in ways that most other countries can only dream of? Think past Trump – he’s a symptom, not the disease.

      05/8/18 5:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      Joe,

      Will cut you some slack, you being the newbie. We refer here to the Ol USA as the DUMBEST COUNTRY ON THE PLANET.

      05/8/18 7:05 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      Bloody Gina SAYS she won’t use torture if she is confirmed to head the CIA. But can we trust her to tell the truth? The only way to be sure is to waterboard her. She swears it really works. Let US find out.

      05/9/18 10:00 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      12

      Bauer- there are plenty of candidates for dumbest country on this orb. I’d vote for Somalia- they seem to be clueless about how to organize their plot of dirt into a functioning society.

      05/9/18 2:53 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      13

      The US is playing with fire…with the lunatic in the White House.

      Trump: Everybody thinks I deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

      He can their voices.

      05/9/18 3:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      14

      So you say our only option is for US to destroy what exactly? We don’t have a good record shooting anything but ourselves in the foot. And who is Trumpie gonna convince this is To Die For?

      Speaking of, Michael Cohen is playing the fool part perfectly that Nicole Kidman played In To Die For. Hope he doesn’t suicide himself.

      05/9/18 10:18 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      15

      Rich: While I wouldn’t use the language you do, I understand and generally agree with your basic point – that in a democracy like ours, the electorate gets the leaders they deserve. So here’s a question for you, which I’m asking out of simple curiosity and not to be a wiseguy – do you think America’s current “dumbness” applies to the entire political spectrum, or just certain segments thereof?

      05/10/18 11:53 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      Joe,

      That we have any real say in the dumbass policy mistakes our government keeps inflicting on the world is an illusion. These fuckups are intentional to keep US all in fear. Government is the entertainment division of the military industrial surveillance complex. F your vote, just keep paying your taxes to these fucking parasites. Who rules America? Well, it ain’t US.

      05/10/18 1:24 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      17

      There is only one ruling party- the Wall Street War Party.

      05/10/18 1:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Joe said...

      18

      Rich: Fair enough – I’d say we’re on the same wavelength, despite some differences in terminology. So let me ask you this as a follow up – what, if anything, do you think can be done to rectify this situation? J.

      05/12/18 9:44 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      19

      Joe,

      Not something we can do but something tragic that will happen to Shock and Awe US that regime change must start at home. We can build a wall but we are still at risk, whether it is the proliferation of nuclear weapons or assault weapons in the hands of the mentally deranged. The solution is to stay out of crowded places that are perfect kill zones. It may be something as small as a dirty bomb in the financial district of NYC to shock US that our massive military can’t protect US. And boy will that do a number on Trump Red Ink. Time is running out on US, it’s just a matter of probability and outcome.

      05/13/18 8:02 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      20

      And when it happens, you can be sure the lunatics will rush to blame Iran to Shock and Awe. That’s good for another trillion dollar waste of taxpayer bucks.

      05/13/18 8:42 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      21

      Trumpie first has to make peace with NK – that other axis of evil.

      05/13/18 8:45 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      22

      These lunatics are using the same Iraqi war playbook and the Dumbest Country on the Planet keeps falling for it.

      05/13/18 8:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      23

      Don’t think the Dumbocrats will do anything. They have Iraqi blood on their hands too.

      05/13/18 8:49 AM | Comment Link

    • chucknobomb said...

      24

      Hoyer and Shumer defend Israeli War Criminals. Fuck the D and R’s. BDS. Stop funding Terrorist Nation Israel. Have a nice day!

      05/16/18 6:54 AM | Comment Link

    • chucknobomb said...

      25

      One more thing. Inspect Israeli WMD and Nukes!

      05/16/18 6:56 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      26

      The US is playing with fire–

      Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.

      Anybody got a match?

      05/17/18 11:21 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      27

      So what about Iran? The Dumbest Country on the Planet has been playing with live fire with assault weapons, and the whores in congress on the NRA payroll ran away a long time ago.

      05/18/18 1:46 PM | Comment Link

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