Thursday, May 24, 2018

Iran Responds to Plan B

Juan Cole reports that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini has responded to Trump's withdrawal from the JCPOA and Pompeo's Plan B 12 demands with 6 demands for Europe: 1) condemn the US withdrawal, 2) stop pressing Iran on missile development, 3) criticize any further US boycotts, 4) undo damage to Iran economy of boycotts especially to buy any oil not able to be exported because of them, 5) support financing of Iran economy, and 6) respond rapidly to these demands.  According to Cole they are not optimistic the European nations will be able to withstand the US sanctions, with the impending withdrawal of France's Total a harbinger.  Macron may be key.

If demands not met, Iran will return to enriching uranium to 19.75%, enough for medical use and to fuel a nuclear submarine (Iran has none), but not to make a weapon.  Oh such fun.

Barkley Rosser

12 comments:

2slugbaits said...

Which of the six demands is seen as the big hurdle for the EU? Items 1, 2, 3 and 6 seem pretty easy. Item 4 seems like something that could be finessed given that oil is a fungible commodity. So I'm guessing it must be item 5, supporting the financing of Iran's economy. Does that mean 100 percent support? Symbolic support? Indirect support through Russia and China?

john c. halasz said...

Not a big fan of the Ayatollah, but he did compare the U.S. to Tom of "Tom and Jerry" fame.

Anonymous said...

Angela Merkel tells China that Europe supports nuclear deal with Iran

Russia, China and Germany will be enough.

Anonymous said...

Include India as well.

Peter T said...

Not an expert, but my understanding from a report on Khamenei's demands was that point 4 was more like "maintain Iran's access to the financial system". Which could be done, presumably, through EU institutions dealing in Euros.

rosserjb@jmu.edu said...

Peter T.,

That is point 5, which john c. halaz may be right will be the toughest to deliver. Point 4 seems to be more about markets for goods and services, especially oil and gas exports. This may be tough to deliver too, and the pending withdrawal of France's Total from a major deal to help develop more oil and gas fields may be the test, even though supposedly a Chinese company may be prepared to step in its place.

But these demands are directed at Europe. Having China or Russia or India step in to replace exiting Europpean companies will not suffice. That is the message of these demands. Khameini wants Europe to fully support JCPOA all the way, or Iran will pull out. That is the bottom line.

2slugbaits said...

I suspect it all comes down to whether or not Iran is looking for an excuse to get out of the deal. Some elements within Iran probably are, but Khameini doesn't seem to be in that camp. If all of the remaining signatories would prefer to stay in the agreement, then they'll probably find a way to make that happen. And I'm not sure that Trump even cares all that much whether or not Europe stays in the agreement. Trump doesn't know shit from Shinola about anything. All he cares about is that he scored some political points with his base. The base is unlikely to care all that much if everyone else keeps to the agreement. In fact, Trump would see it as a "win-win" because he gets the domestic political benefit of withdrawing from the agreement but still gets Iran to stick with the substance.

Peter T said...

sorry, point 5

I agree on Trump's cluelessness, but there seems to be a significant group within the US bureaucracy that really wants to enforce sanctions on Iran. They launch enforcement action, and the White House has to either back down or go along. Obama's command of the bureaucracy was hardly total - Trump's is even looser.

RepubAnon said...

Odd that Trump reduced the penalties against ZTE for violating the sanctions against North Korea- and Iran. It's almost as though Europe could avoid US sanctions by offering Trump a nice parade, or a golf course...

2slugbaits said...

Peter T,

I don't know that the career bureaucracy is against the deal, and they would have to be strongly motivated to enforce the sanctions. It would be pretty easy for the career bureaucracy to drag its feet on sanctions until Nov 2020, which isn't all that far away. A few nut cases at the top of the bureaucracy like John Bolton certainly are supportive of sanctions, but even that's not universal. It's clear that DoD is in favor of the Iran deal. In any event, enforcement of the economic sanctions would mainly fall within Treasury's portfolio and I'm not convinced career professionals within Treasury would be particularly motivated to press sanctions. For one thing, anything that is more than a little symbolic enforcement here and there would likely hurt US banks, and under Trump the Treasury Department is a wholly owned subsidiary of the big Wall St. banks.

Peter T said...


Off topic, but that's not how bureaucracies work in practice (I'm a former Australian bureaucrat). They can be very uniform and responsive given a good internal culture, the right leadership and well-established processes. But there is always a lot of variation across all three. Where you get some group within with a different view of priorities, they can be very hard to move (think many police forces, the way the US Air Force has been able to resist integration more than the other services, the social workers in the UK who decided satanic child abuse was a thing, the New York FBI hate on the Clintons...). This is especially the case when they can get outside support and publicity.

The US bureaucracy is more prone to this than most - short term political appointments at the top, often connected to powerful outsiders, re-organisation hampered by a legalistic system and congressional interests...

My feeling is that the Office of Foreign Asset Control has a thing about Iran, and pursues sanctions there with vigour.

rickstersherpa@msn.com said...

Iran, with I expect Russia & Chinese support, is playing a little divide & conquer between U.S. & Europe, which of course Trump, Bolton, & Pompeo make increasingly easy given the contempt they shis to European democratic governments & European interests.