Iran - Page 4

Trump Must Not Leave Nuclear Deal, Warns Iran’s Foreign Minister


The US president Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement. According to Iran’s Foreign Minister, this could be a serious move which sends a “very dangerous message” about how wise it is to come to terms with the United States.

According to Mohammad Javad Zarif, it is the United States that failed to abide by the rules of the deal, while Iran and six major nations did their part. The agreement stated that Iran would put limits on parts of the nuclear program should the other countries lift the nuclear-related sanctions that were imposed on Iran. This deal was enforced in January two years ago when President Obama was still the President.

“That’s a very dangerous message to send to people of Iran, but also to the people of the world — that you should never come to an agreement with the United States because at the end of the day, the operating principle of the United States is ‘what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable,’ ” he said. “The situation is creating an impression globally that agreements don’t matter.”

Zarif warned that Iran has multiple options should the United States choose to leave the deal. Iran’s foreign minister attends the United Nations meeting, and he pointed out that one of the possibilities for Iran is to return to the nuclear activities, but there were some more “drastic measures” on the table which he didn’t want to explain further on.

“We will make a decision based on our national security interests when the times comes,” he said. “But whatever that decision will be, it won’t be very pleasant to the United States.”
Trump has criticized this deal, fortunately, he decided to stay in the agreement, at least for now. However, he told the Europeans that they have time until May 12 to fix the “terrible flaws” of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, Zafir said that Iran was not interested in the new terms because they would harm the country greatly.

According to Zafir, Iran has no intentions of developing a nuclear weapon, and their nuclear program was peaceful. Even the current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who is Trump’s favorite Secretary of State said that Iran was not “racing towards a bomb” in his testimony at the confirmation hearing.

“America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment. If they want to fear anything, it’s up to them,” Zarif said. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit the United States in order to try to persuade Trump to stay in this deal. However, Zafir believes that “to try to appease the President would be an exercise in futility.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister claims that the United States has done everything to prevent Iran from developing economically and engaging with the other countries in the region and the world as well. Teheran is blocked and “a country that has been in breach for at least the last 15 months is in a position to make any new demands,” says Zarif. He also acknowledged that Iran would most likely leave the deal if the US pulls out of it first. “It’s very important for Iran to receive the benefits of the agreement,” he said. “There’s no way that Iran would do a one-sided implementation of it.”

Moreover, Zarif told that Iran would be more open towards prisoner exchange if the United States had more respect towards the country. There have been secret talks between the two countries in 2016 when Iran released four Americans for seven Iranians. He also defended Iran’s position in Syria and accused the US of launching airstrikes without sufficient evidence of chemical attacks. Zarif noted that Iranian troops have been present in Syria, but he denied the existence of their bases inside the country.


The Future of Iranian Deal Hangs in balance


This week’s French President Emmanuel Macron visit to Washington is the first state visit for President Trump since he took office in January 2017. There are several matters on the agenda for two leaders to discuss, namely Russia, North Korea, trade, climate change, and counterterrorism, but by far the most important topic will be the future of the Iranian deal, signed in 2015 by the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Germany, and China. The deal allowed Tehran access to the international markets in exchange for limiting its nuclear program. Macron will also try to secure a promise from President Trump that he will not act on his pledge to withdraw US troops from Syria, as this will allow Iran to establish a firm stronghold in the war-torn country.

President Trump has been a long-time critic of the Iranian deal and once he was in office has made several statements about it, mostly threatening to withdraw from it, unless it is fixed. The list of things that need to be adjusted is fairly long, but the biggest concern is with lack of prohibition on Iran’s ballistic tests and its involvement in Syria. American allies in Europe are vehemently opposed to the cancellation of the deal and have stated that they will keep their end of the bargain, regardless of Washington’s actions. Unless an arrangement is made, it will represent the largest breach in trans-Atlantic relationships in history.

The consequences of the Iranian deal falling can be disastrous and plunge the entire region into insecurity. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has stated that his country will increase it “nuclear activities” if that happens. That is why every effort has been made in order to keep the deal alive and address any concerns the White House may have. So far, four documents have been created, based on Mr. Trump’s remarks.

Another critic of the deal, Mike Pompeo, is poised to become the next American secretary of state. At one point, he advocated for the bombing campaign aimed at Iranian nuclear sites but has dialed down his criticism, stating the need for the diplomatic solution.

The key player in keeping the Iranian deal alive – and according to many the only person capable of persuading Trump to play ball – is French President. In a highly unlikely turn of event, Macron and Trump seem to have bonded in a manner that is often described as bromance by the American media. The credit for the relationship goes mostly to Macron and his personality. He is often described as the ultimate pragmatists, a trait that has allowed him not only to seduce Trump but to be the only European leader on talking terms with Vladimir Putin. But what could possibly a 40-year old French and a 71-year old American have in common?

It all started with a handshake that almost turned into a wrestling match. Macron later stated that he was prepared for the Trump’s handshake by watching his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Abe.

It continued during the Bastille Day, a French national holiday. Macron invited President Trump and treated him with highest honors, complete with a front row seat for the traditional military parade. The two now talk on the phone almost weekly and President Trump is eager to host Macron in the same fashion he experienced in Paris, together with a dinner in Eiffel Tower. He will return the favor at Mount Vernon.

French President will have a busy stay in Washington, with several meetings (including one on one with President Trump) and a lecture at the Washington University. Macron hopes to reach an agreement on a joint response in case Assad uses chemical weapons again, while Trump will push him to increase French involvement in Syria. Both leaders have expressed a need to develop a unified front against Chinese expansion in Asia and that is something that will feature prominently in these talks. How to deal with Russia is also an important topic, especially to Macron and Merkel, who will visit Washington on Friday. Both European leaders will try to persuade Trump to give up his proposed aluminum and steel tariffs or at least exempt European Union countries from it.

The main goal of European diplomacy seems to be keeping the US engaged and not letting it sink into isolationism, heavily prominent in Trump’s campaign. Pulling America closer to Europe is Macron’s main objective, and among European leaders, he seems uniquely qualified to achieve it. According to his own words: “I’m an easy guy. I’m very simple. I’m straightforward.” Macron continued “It’s too complicated if you make war on everybody. You make trade war on China, trade war against Europe. War in Syria. War against Iran. Come on, it doesn’t work. You need allies. We are the ally.”


America and Iran poised for battle in Syria


One of the hallmarks of President Trump’s foreign policy has been a fierce critic of Iran and the deal made by President Obama, which allowed for the Iranian sanctions to be lifted in exchange for Teheran’s giving up its nuclear program. Apart from the Persian Gulf, a traditional battleground between the two countries, US and Iranian forces are also in close proximity in Syria, where members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been instrumental in recent victories of the Syrian Army, with Russian air force providing ample air support. On the other hand, US forces have maintained a presence in Kurdish-occupied parts of Syria, from where they have been coordinating air strikes against regime’s forces.

Despite heavy fighting, there haven’t been any clashes between the two sides so far, much to the dismay of Israel, which has been advocating for a tougher stance on Iran, especially in Syria and has conducted numerous strikes against both Iranian forces and local militias backed by Teheran. This was all done in an effort of preventing Iran from gaining a stronger foothold in the country that shares a border with Israel.

In March, President Trump fired H. R. McMaster from the position of the national security advisor and appointed John Bolton as his replacement. Bolton, a Bush-era hawk and a strong supporter of Iraq war, is known for his aggressive stance and has advocated for preemptive strikes against both North Korea and Iran, a stance that has earned him a wide-spread criticism in international circles. Many have seen this move as a preparation for a more hostile posture towards Iran and its involvement in Syria.

The fears of conflict escalation have also been fueled by the statement made by the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, saying that “we want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area. They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.” The looming deadline imposed by President Trump on its European allies to fix the Iranian deal, set for May 12th, is fast approaching and if the US withdraws, it would only further destabilize the already fragile situation.

Some experts say that the cost of direct confrontation would be too steep for both countries. Professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham Scott Lucas said that “There’s no appetite on either side to deliberately look for a wider conflict because then your costs outweigh your benefits,” he told Al Jazeera. “You have to put in so many resources and have the problem of not knowing how far this will go.”

Iran has just starting to recover from decades of international sanctions and an open conflict with the world’s most powerful military is something they are desperate to avoid. On the other hand, the US is faced with a dramatic decrease of domestic support for any military adventure in the Middle East and is trying to limit its forces in the region.

While an outright conflict between the US and Iran’s forces may be far-fetched, both countries possess capable forces in Syria that can do the fighting for them. Iran has numerous militias which it has trained and supplied for years, and the US have Syrian Democratic Army, a heavily Kurdish-dominated force opposing Assad’s regime. These are fully able to maintain a low-intensity conflict for a long time, supported by their allies in Washington and Teheran.


Trump’s Policy Wreaks Havoc in the Middle East?


Many people are concerned that President Donald Trump is assembling a “war cabinet” with the addition of the new hawkish politicians to the team. With the airstrikes on Syria, Trump showed the poor Foreign Policy strategy. This kind of strategy can be defined as passive-aggressive. The United States is not doing anything concrete to solve the problems in Syria, yet the actions are aggressive enough to wreak havoc in the region.

The things which Trump and his administration are doing are not logical at all. Their goal is to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, defeat the Islamic State in Syria and prevent the Syrian government from using the chemical weapons again. However, as a country, America didn’t do anything to challenge Iran in the region, and once the Islamic State is dealt with, Trump intends to withdraw?! Furthermore, the airstrikes are launched onto Syria, but there is no clear strategy behind it. Most of the rockets were destroyed while in the sky, but as the country burns, Trump said that the mission was accomplished.

The examples of the contradictory politics are numerous. The US greeted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman when he visited Washington, but they wrote him a blank check afterward for continued regional conflict. Just as we thought that the United States had gained an edge, the president finds a way to mess things up. Let’s not continue with the examples.

The upcoming months will be crucial for the US. In May, Trump wants to open a US Embassy in Jerusalem, which is the time when Iraqis hold the national elections. Furthermore, POTUS plans to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, but let’s not forget that this was all before the supposed chemical attack in Syria when Trump was forced to react. With so much going on in the Middle East, Trump announced that he would withdraw the US army from the region. Could these be the biggest errors made by any administration?


With ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, the tensions in the region would grow. Not only that. This deal blocks Iran from making the nuclear weapon in the upcoming years, and this is something the US must not do. While the European Union may stay in the deal together with Russia and China, the Iranians may abandon it. Trump has surrounded himself with hawkish politicians, and the changes in his cabinet are grave. The team consisting of Trump, John Bolton who is the new national security advisor and Mike Pompeo, the new CIA director who replaced Rex Tillerson after he was dismissed doesn’t look promising. Let’s not forget about newly-appointed warmongering National Secretary of State John J. Sullivan. With such a team, USA is bound to fail in diplomacy, and they can only rely on Special Forces, Air Force and the military in general. And that is not a good approach.

Anti-Islamic State

Trump has announced that he would remove the forces from eastern Syria in the future, but at the moment they are staying put. Withdrawing is not an option because this could spur further conflict in the region and let’s not forget that Turkey and Iran are also involved and not just the Syrian government, Russia, and the US. Leaving Syria would mark the beginning of bloodshed. The similar situation is in Iraq. Will the new president rely on the United States, or will he fall under the Iranian influence? The US could help the next president tackle the issues in the region and with the neighbors, but America isn’t showing too much interest. After investing so much money to combat and suppress the Islamic State, is the USA ready to withdraw from the Middle East?

Israel vs. Palestine

The conflict between Israeli and Palestinians lasts for decades. The Trump administration promised a peace plan for the two sides, but nothing has happened so far. President’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem without the consent and any response from Israel may be a huge mistake.

The upcoming month or two would be crucial for the America and its interests in the Middle East. It appears that Trump is adding insult to injury with his decisions and the moves made by his administration while he should be putting out fires. Due to this, the position of America in the region might change significantly by the end of the year.


Iran Threatens Trump Not to Drop Nuclear Deal


According to Reuters, Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Donald Trump should not pull out of the nuclear deal with his country. Rouhani warned the US President that their response would be much stronger than Trump thinks and that he would regret such a decision.

On May 12, Donald Trump will have a chance to waive the sanctions that were temporarily lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. Otherwise, they would resume. The leader of the United States believes the European powers are supposed to “fix the terrible flaws” of the deal. Rouhani doesn’t agree with Trump’s decision, and he said in a broadcast: “The new U.S. president – who has big claims and many ups and downs in his words and actions – has been trying for 15 months to break the JCPOA … but the structure of the JCPOA is so strong that it has not been shaken by such quakes.”

He also added: “Iran will not violate the nuclear deal, but if the United States withdraws from the deal, they will surely regret it. Our response will be stronger than what they imagine, and they would see that within a week.”

If the JCPOA is to collapse, it would only allow the Iranian nuclear program to further develop without any control, meaning that it could reach a level more advanced than it was before the deal was signed. Rouhani sent his message on the National Nuclear Technology Day. On this important day for Teheran, he displayed the latest nuclear achievements such as a nuclear battery and centrifuges for the oil industry.

The Iranian president added that nothing would surprise Iran and they were preparing for every possible outcome one of which is the JCPOA without the world-leading USA. If the USA were to break the deal, it would still include China, Russia, and leading European countries, but the deal might collapse entirely.

Meanwhile, countries such as Germany, GB, and France are motivating their EU partners to back new sanctions on Iran in order to persuade Trump to stick with the nuclear deal in return for sanctions relief. The aforementioned sanctions aren’t including the measures lifted under the nuclear deal. What they would do, is hit individuals who are behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program and the country’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rouhani pointed out that their weapons have defensive purpose only. He said: “We will produce any weapons necessary to defend our country in such a volatile region. But we will not use our weapons against our neighbors.”

On a slightly different note, the US dollar jumped from 54,700 rials to 58,000 rials in one day in Teheran, according to the local media. Just for the record, a dollar was 36,000 rials in September last year. In the meantime, Iran’s currency has dropped to a new low due to a concern over imposing the sanctions again should Trump put his words into practice.


Iran Renews Its Interest In Latin America – Javad Zarif Visits


The U.S. and Iran signed a nuclear agreement, but this Middle East country continues to challenge America. The visit of their foreign minister, Javad Zarif to Latin America, is a sign of this. They want to create unrest and threaten the States by sponsoring terrorism, promote its radical Islamist ideology, and strengthen alliances with anti-American regimes. The U.S. had enough issues with Iranians in the Middle East they don’t want their presence in Western Hemisphere. This is why Obama’s administration should devise a strategy to eliminate Iranian threat.

Iran’s Goals in Latin America

Iran and their allies Hezbollah have long maintained a relationship with Latin America. Their primary goal is to create logistical support there, by financing Islamist regimes and terrorist operations in that part of the world. Iranians sponsor schools, mosques, and cultural centers in this region. They even go as far as to promote their Islamist messages to million viewers through HispanTV. On top of that, it has been reported that Iran is also involved in drug trafficking which is used for financing of their regime back home. Money is used to invest in ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

To achieve their goals Iran used the connections created through their embassies and consulates. It went unnoticed that in 2013 Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused Tehran of “infiltrating several South American countries by building local clandestine intelligence stations designed to sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks.” The Commander of U.S. Southern Command, Admiral Kurt W. Tidd went even further and declared that Hezbollah “maintains an infrastructure with the capability to conduct or support terrorist attacks.”


In early 1990s Iranian suicide bombers attacked Israeli embassy and Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society building killing 29 and injuring 85 people in the process. But they didn’t lay low since then. In 2007 U.S. Authorities stopped a terrorist attack on John F. Kennedy airport. The executors were four Latin American men with close ties to Iran. In 2011 Iranians tried to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington.

Joseph M. Humire of the Center for a Secure Free Society stated during a congressional testimony that Iranians spread their influence in cultural, diplomatic, economic, and military spheres. They go from building schools and mosques to creating connections to regional authorities, only to then try and get their hands on drug trafficking and money laundering needed for their global operations.

One of their goals is to find allies in countries that are suppressed by the United States such as Cuba and Venezuela. Hugo Chavez was known as a leader who supported Iran, and even stated that: “One of the targets that Yankee imperialism has in its sights is Iran, which is why we are showing our solidarity.”


The Significance of Zarif’s Visit

Now, the Iranian position in Latin America was strengthened after Foreign Minister Zarif visited. His visit lasted one week, and he was accompanied by a delegation which counted 120 members. He went to six different countries which included stops in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi described this visit as “the beginning of a new chapter in relations between Iran and Latin America.”

Both Iran and Latin America benefited from his visit. They have signed various political and economic agreements. This is what it looks at the surface. Beneath, there isn’t much for anyone. Over the course of last few decades, Iran signed more than 500 agreements with Latin American countries. The economic gain wasn’t significant for anyone. It is evident that the visit had an intention of spreading Iranian military and ideological influence. The idea was to provoke some sort of Islamic revolution at America’s gates. During his stay in Latin America, Zarif shared the anti-American sentiment. Highlighting flaws of the United States while praising Tehran regime. He talked about the U.S. and their politic of “atrocities and unjust sanctions,” he praised Venezuela “for their revolutions and resistance against the pressures from outside.” He also and noted that these countries and Iran have in common the fact that both “have resisted against foreign pressure and arrogant powers.”


Even when bad-mouthing U.S., Zarif was also hopeful that after the nuclear agreement was signed, Barack Obama’s regime would start economic talks with Iran. While in Chile he stated: “If the banks eager to work with Iran are worried about negative behavior of the U.S. We are ready to get them letters from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to feel comfortable and communicate with Iran.”

Needed: A New U.S. Strategy

So far, the U.S. officials haven’t seen the dark side of his Latin America visit. They responded with Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act which has a goal to stop the spreading of Iranian influence in Latin America. By 2013 they concluded that this Middle East country has lowered its presence in South America and that no additional action from the U.S. is necessary. The passive stance of America shouldn’t be the course of the country heads when it comes to the matter of Iranian presence in Latin America. They are still spreading their influence, draining money from down there, in order to build more ballistic missiles. The U.S. immediately needs to create a strategy for this situation and to resolve Iranian threat before it becomes too grave.