U.S. President Donald Trump’s May 8, 2018 speech turned the tables on Iran, on the European parties to the JCPOA and on the supporters of the deal around the world. Trump reiterated the basic truths about the Iranian regime, which the Obama administration had swept aside in its eagerness to attain the deal.
Announcing his withdrawal from the JCPOA, Trump clarified that he refused to go along with the Obama administration’s and the Europeans’ deceptive presentation of Iran and of the nuclear deal.
Significance And Implications:
Trump’s speech announcing his withdrawal from the JCPOA significantly alters the strategic power balance in the Middle East and the world. The Trump administration has completely reversed Obama’s U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran, resuming the strategic political-military alliance with America’s traditional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, against Iran, which Obama supported, and against the Shi’ite resistance axis.
Iran now faces two fronts working in tandem: a political-economic front led by the U.S., and a military front for expelling Iran from Syria, led by Israel. On both fronts, Iran is on the defensive and is openly adopting a policy of restraint. Iran has no means, neither political nor military, to confront this old-new coalition of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel, and it has not dared to retaliate for Israeli strikes in Syria targeting its troops and military infrastructures there.
Trump’s new Iran policy is also a firm message to North Korea, that the U.S. will not be party to deceptive and fraudulent agreements, and will act against dictatorial regimes that employ terror and develop nuclear weapons.
Parameters Of The New U.S. Policy On Iran:
In his speech, Trump presented the principles of the new U.S. policy on Iran:
- The Iranian regime is an oppressive totalitarian theocratic regime which is still under sanctions for human rights violations and does not merit a Western seal of approval. In its 30 years in power, it has murdered thousands of Iranian citizens, and it imprisons political dissidents and abducts Western nationals and holds them hostage.
- The Iranian regime is the main supporter and disseminator of global terror, responsible for the murder of many Americans, and is under sanctions for this terrorist activity.
- The Iranian regime is striving for regional expansion throughout the Middle East, destabilizing countries that are U.S. allies.
- The Iranian regime is developing missiles for offensive purposes (its claim that the missiles are defensive is false. The 2000-km range missiles, which Iran was allowed to develop following the JCPOA, are clearly offensive).
- The JCPOA is rooted in a U.S. capitulation to Iran’s demand to recognize it as a nuclear power, and in a complete disregard of the fact that Iran had a detailed program for manufacturing nuclear weapons and missile delivery capabilities – as was already known and was comprehensively corroborated by Israel’s recent exposure of Iran’s nuclear archive.
Components Of The JCPOA Deception
- U.S.-Iran negotiations secretly began during the presidency of Ahmadinejad, not after the election of Rohani, as the Obama administration deceptively claimed.
- Negotiations began only after an initial capitulation by president Obama, who met Iran’s demand to recognize its right to enrich uranium, after years of negotiations in which the Europeans persistently refused to recognize this as an Iranian right.
- The Iran deal is not a signed document, because Iran refused to commit to a bilateral or multilateral agreement. The unsigned document was approved by the UN Security Council under the heading “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” which means that it is only one of thousands of decisions passed by the Security Council.
- In stark contrast to the claim of Obama and his spokespersons, that the JCPOA is “the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated,” the JCPOA actually employs the laxest inspection mechanism ever negotiated with a country that has been caught lying to the IAEA and the Security Council and failing to comply with the NPT, to which it is a signatory. The inspection mechanism is outrageously inadequate, since it does not allow the inspection of military sites and other suspected sites of military nuclear activity.
- Obama transformed Iran from a suspect state, accused of military nuclear activity, which must be subjected to constant and meticulous scrutiny, into a partner allowed to negotiate the mechanisms of its own inspection. The Obama administration and the Europeans surrendered to the refusal of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to allow the questioning of Iranian nuclear scientists and the inspection of military facilities, and agreed to close Iran’s Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) case in an outrageous process, in which the Parchin military compound remained closed to IAEA inspectors and soil samples from the site were supplied by Iran itself.
- The nuclear negotiations were based on a constant surrender to Iran’s conditions and demands. The few conditions it is required to meet are unverifiable: the uranium that was removed from Iran has disappeared, the heavy water it is producing – contrary to the usual procedure applied to heavy water producing countries – is stored in Oman, within Iran’s reach, and the inspection procedures agreed upon do not include military bases and sites suspected of military nuclear activity, but apply only to nuclear sites that were declared by Iran itself (and even this only after they were exposed by foreign forces, as in the case of Fordo).
- Acting in an unprofessional and non-independent manner, the IAEA and its secretary-general, Yukiya Amano, agreed to these scandalous inspection procedures. Amano closed Iran’s PMD case in complete disregard of the IAEA’s own findings, published in a 2011 secretary-general report, which found Iran guilty of pursuing nuclear weapons. Amano’s justification for closing the case was the ridiculous claim that no evidence had been found that the Iranian regime was behind the suspicious findings collected at Iranian sites. Amano agreed to downgrade the IAEA from an independent body to one that is professionally subordinate to a political forum: the JCPOA Joint Commission. This means that any Iranian violation of the JCPOA is automatically defined as a contested issue that must be forwarded to the political echelon, namely the Joint Commission. This applies, for example, to IAEA inspection of Section T of the JCPOA, which allows Iran to develop theoretical simulations of nuclear explosions as long as they are for non-military purposes and subject to inspection. The IAEA reports confirming Iranian compliance with the agreement are meaningless, because the IAEA is barred from inspecting any site that was not accepted by Iran in advance as a site subject to inspection.
- The European countries, which had led the nuclear negotiations with Iran until Obama assumed the presidency, and had espoused a principled position that mandated stringent inspection, the questioning of scientists, and a refusal to recognize uranium enrichment as an Iranian right, fell in line with Obama, who led the nuclear negotiations, relinquishing all their demands.
- Obama and the Europeans consented to Iran developing missiles with a range of up to 2000km, a range which covers the entire Middle East but not Europe.
- The Obama administration and the Europeans accepted the Iranian lie regarding Khamenei’s fatwa banning nuclear weapons, endorsed it and used it to justify the JCPOA, even though they knew Iran was developing such weapons.
* Y. Carmon is the President and Founder of MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI’s Iran media project.