Trump’s Iran deal pullout and the dangers ahead

By Ameen Izzadeen
The United States President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal — also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – has exposed his insensitivity to world peace and nuclear nonproliferation and contributed to an escalation in the multiple conflicts ripping the Middle East apart. No sooner the US pulled out of the Iran accord than clashes erupted between Israel and Iran.
By undermining the Iran nuclear accord, Trump is obviously sending a wrong signal to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom he will be meeting at the end of this month or early next month for talks aimed at North Korea’s nuclear disarmament.
North Korea, which blames the US for torpedoing the six-party agreement, must now be having serious issues about trusting a US administration. Dishonoring treaties is a feature of uncivilized conduct befitting the Nazis. Adolf Hitler signed the Munich agreement in 1938 with the European powers and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact a year later with the Soviet Union, but he observed the treaties in the breach and launched surprise attacks on Soviet positions in Poland and invaded Czechoslovakia, thus starting the Second World War. Ironically, in a statement in support of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman equated the Iran accord to the 1938 Munich Pact, though it is Trump who has committed a Hitler-like act.
We wonder whether Trump had ever heard the Latin phrase ‘pacta sunt servanda’ — meaning that “agreements must be kept”. To expect that a witless president known for his regular gaffes will observe international law principles may be too much to ask from him.
May be his Tuesday’s statement was made by his neocon speechwriters, but if he had been smart enough, he would surely have noted the blunders in it; he would have desisted from praising the tyrannical era that preceded the 1979 Iranian revolution; and he would not have accused Iran of supporting terror groups Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Trump is an embarrassment to Americans because he does not know that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are against Iran. The two Wahhabi groups have killed Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan and are waging a worldwide war against Shiite Muslims. What a shame, a man who does not know such basic facts is heading the so-called greatest nation on earth. Or is he deliberately lying in preparation for a major war against Iran, just as George W Bush did when he deliberately misled the American people into believing that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein had links with al-Qaeda, the group which is said to have carried out the 9/11 attacks?
By pulling out of the Iran deal despite warnings from the United States’ closest European allies and the deal’s co-signatories, Britain, France and Germany, that such action risks plunging the Middle East into further chaos, the Trump administration is only making Israel, Saudi Arabia and sectarian terrorists happy. But the US has indeed violated international law, because the Iran accord carries the United Nations Security Council’s endorsement.
Now that the US has withdrawn from the JCPOA, Iran will certainly do what it takes to further its national interest. But Trump’s reckless act does spell disaster to the rest of the world. Certainly, it has pushed the world towards war, halted the momentum towards nuclear nonproliferation and brought upon economic hardships on developing countries like Sri Lanka. Often, US sanctions have made poor countries poorer. In the 1990s, the US sanctions dealt a severe blow to Sri Lanka’s economy because they prevented Sri Lanka from exporting tea and other items to Iraq. Similarly, the US sanctions on Iran prevented Sri Lanka from buying Iran’s oil at concessionary prices or on a buy-now-and-pay-later basis. In addition, every time, sanctions were in force, oil prices went up. This is no good news for a developing country struggling to cope with a balance of payment crisis. Well, there is no altruism in the US foreign policy. The Trump administration is least concerned about the impact of sanctions on developing nations, which he only recently described as shit hole countries.
In about six months, the US sanctions will come into force, preventing once again countries from buying Iran’s oil and maintaining trade ties with it. In terms of the US sanctions aimed at crippling Iran’s economy, companies and banks which transact with Iran will be prevented from doing business with the US and US companies. It is indeed an affront to a country’s sovereignty when its companies or entities are threatened with punishment by another country.
The Trump administration, together with Israel and Saudi Arabia, hopes the re-imposition of tough sanctions will plunge Iran’s crisis-ridden economy into deeper stagnation, prompting the people to rise against the Government. They hope that with the support of regime haters within Iran, a concerted military action by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia could lead to the toppling of the government — a formula that worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. But Iran won’t be an easy target for the US-led regime changers. Iran has gone through nearly four decades of Western sanctions, only to emerge stronger. Thanks to these sanctions, Iran is self-sufficient in agriculture, and has made great strides in industries and weapons technology. Iranians often unite behind the Government in the face of an external threat.
How will Iran respond to the Trump blow? Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned that Iran would light the agreement on fire if the US withdrew from it, while President Hasan Rouhani said he had given orders to Iran’s nuclear scientists to be prepared to resume the nuclear programme. Despite such strong rhetoric, Iran has exercised restraint and said it would stick by the agreement in deference to the accord’s other signatories – Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.
But the biggest question is the US sanctions. The European powers may find it difficult to help Iran circumvent the US sanctions. This is because no European company would like to be blacklisted by the US for transacting with Iran. Already, China’s mobile giant Huawei is being probed by the US Justice Department for its alleged dealings with Iran in contravention of the US sanctions law.
If Iran fails to receive the economic benefits for being in the nuclear deal, it may be forced to nullify it and follow the North Korean example. It may resume its nuclear programme, test a nuclear device as soon as it can and then, like Kim Jong-un has done, could negotiate with the US from a position of strength.
Iran’s resolve to meet fire with fire was seen on Wednesday when it fired rockets at the Israeli occupied Golan Height in response to Israeli missile attacks on Iranian military installations in Syria. The clashes indicate that Israel, may be on behalf of Saudi Arabia, may be going for a full scale war with Iran, with a view to ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime and handing Syria over to pro-West terrorists and raw liver eaters. But it is easier said than done.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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