Monday, May 21, 2018

Plan B on Iran

Earlier today ne US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, presented this administration's "Plan B" at the Heritage Foundation on how to deal with Iran following the US's withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the  JCPOA.  Pompeo presented 12 demands and threatened to impose "the strongest economic sanctions in history."  The Trump administration may wish to do the latter, but the  refusal of all the other parties to the JCPOA to go along with this effort will certainly guarantee that even if the sanctions are strong, they will not match what preceded the negotiation of the JCPOA.  As it is, Jeffrey Sachs (as reported by Juan Cole) has argued that if Trump tries to sanction European companies dealing with Iran through non-dollar currencies, the  EU should take the US to the WTO as well as the UN Security Council and General  Assembly. After all, this extraterritorial action would violate international trade agreements, and given that the JCPOA is an officially recognized agreement by the UN Security Council, the US is in fact in violation of international law with its withdrawal, not that those supporting this recognize this.

As it is, the 12 demands are chock full of hypocrisy and nonsense, some of it unacceptable even to a government that would be secular and pro-US.  I shall not go through all of them, but will note just three that will not be accepted by Iran, to the extent the are even possible to be carried out. One is for Iran to "cease threatening its neighbors."  Well, the problem with this is that it is largely in the minds of such neighbors as Saudi Arabia and UAE that Iran is "threatening" them.  KSA has the third highest level of military spending in the world, but somehow Iran is "threatening" it. KSA has called for the military overthrow of the Iranian government.  I am unaware of the Iranian government doing the same regarding KSA.  Of course many of the demands involve Iraq and Syria, but last time I checked the governments of those nations have invited what Iranian military units are in their nations, with them in Syria battling against rebels backed by KSA and UAE attempting to overthrow that government.  Really, this is just ridiculous, although  Bahrain might  have a complaint about Iran providing some military aid to majority Shia elements in that nation opposed to its dominant Sunni  government, but Bahrain has had a problem with this for a long time.

Another is for Iran to  stop  providing military aid to the "Huthis" in Yemen.  Yikes!  While KSA and US and UAE have loudly claimed Iran is arming the Houthis, most sources say that most of their arms are US ones.  The one thing they may have gotten from Iran are their missiles they have fired off periodically into  KSA.  Certainly KSA is unhappy about this, but none of these has caused any damage or injuries so far.  In contrast, the Saudis with support from the US (and also  UAE) have been massively bombing and embargoing Yemen for several years, with thousands killed and famine and cholera endemic in poverty-stricken Yemen.  Really, it is the Yemenis who have grounds to be making demands here, in contrast to the US and its allies.

Finally we have a demand to halt (forever) all uranium enrichment.  It is clearly the case that what uranium enrichment Iran is engaging in is for its civilian reactor program, which is allowed to Iran, not only under the JCPOA, but also the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which Iran is not only a signatory, but in good standing, with the  IAEA saying they are in conformance with it, as well as the JCPOA.  As it is, while pursuing nuclear weapons and various foreign activities are not popular in Iran, the civilian nuclear program is and has been highly popular in Iran. It was popular with the dissident Green movement in 2009, and no democratically elected government would shut it down.  This demand will only be accepted by a government installed after an invasion by the US and its allies, which this set of demands may be the prelude to.

Barkley Rosser


Anonymous said...


john c. halasz said...

The best of Pompeo's demands was to give up their heavy water reactor. But that was disabled and its core filled with concrete under the JCPOA under the supervision of the IAEA. Facts apparently don't matter with this crew.

Sandwichman said...

Facts are kryptonite to that crew. said...

I shall comment on two other of the demands that have been made. Several observers have spotted one that the Iranian government might be open to under a reasonable negotiation, which is not what is being proposed here, which is in fact a set of "non-negotiable demands." This is to release American hostages/prisoners (as well as ones from other nations auch as Britain as well). Iranian judicial hardliners would obviously resist, but it is pretty clear that most if not al of these people did not commit serious crimes but were arrested on obviously politically and diplomatically motivated trumped-up charges. Releasing them (as DPRK just did) would be both humanitarian and good publicity, even in the absence of any negotiations, and not all that big of a deal internally.

The other is the matter of the Iranian missile program. This is one that many outsiders would like to see them stop and has been at the top of the complaining by the Israelis and Saudis and others. But it is also something that the Iranians were not willing to cave on during the JCPOA negotiations when there were in fact much stronger economic sanctions on than will be forthcoming now.

Given the massive buildup by the Saudis, I have some sympathy with the Iranians not wishing to back off this without some give by relevant others. Curiously, a few months ago the effective victor of the recent Iraqi election, Mohammed al-Sadr, who ran as someone independent of both the US and Iran, urged the Iranians and Saudis to open bilateral negotiations to achieve peaceful relations in the Gulf, but was turned down by both sides. This is what the US should be advocating, which might actually lead to a cessation of the Iranian missile program, but the Saudis seem even stupider than Trump on this, as they refuse to bend on their demands on Qatar, even though their embargo against it has become a total flop. said...

Moqtada al-Sadr, not Mohammed. Sorry about that.