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13 October 2017

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Lars

Donald Trump likes to play with fire and does not realize he is sitting on a barrel of nitroglycerine. If it goes up, the collateral damage can be considerable. The other partners to that Iran deal do not want to mess with it and that is one problem. I am sure there are those in Iran who would love to develop nuclear weapons and Trump may just embolden them.

Then there is the problem with North Korea. If this deal is sabotaged, why would they trust any deal with the US? Or anyone else for that matter?

raven

No more of that pussy "leading from behind".

DJK

Re Lars: That's surely the rub. What is the point of negotiating a deal with the US if it doesn't last beyond one president?

FourthAndLong

Ehud Barak, for one, and perhaps surprisingly to some, has spoken out strongly in opposition to what Trump is doing:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/us/politics/trump-ehud-barak-iran-nuclear-deal.html

WASHINGTON — Ehud Barak, the former Israeli leader known for his hawkish views on Iran, said it would be a “mistake” for President Trump to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, both because it would play to Iran’s advantage and because it would scuttle any hope of a negotiation with North Korea.

Mr. Barak, a decorated soldier who was prime minister and defense minister, is the latest and most prominent Israeli to urge Mr. Trump not to disavow the deal — a step the president is expected to take when he announces his broader strategy for dealing with Iran later this week.

“Even if America decides to pull out of it,” Mr. Barak said in an interview on Tuesday, “no one will join — not the Chinese, not the Russians, not even the Europeans. It will serve the Iranians.”

I thought the leading republicans, along with dems were opposed to messing around with the JCPOA, but Ryan just came out strongly in support of Trump's most recent monkey business.

PM May of the UK also advised against this deviation. Who is going to trust the Americans after going through years of work to reach this agreement ?

allbut6

An interesting read... http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/1204247/implement-the-jcpoa/
I occasionally listen to the related podcast.

One point made is that the US can't limit proliferation by force. If US backs out of Iran deal, NK will understand that US does not negotiate in good faith. Gadaffi gave up weapons program and look what it got him.

eakens

Russia and China's hoarding of gold is and has been an anticipatory event like this. And the Israelis. My god, for all the credit they give themselves and get from others, they are terribly short-sighted.

b

The "new trigger points" Trump wants to introduce are unilateral changes to the JCPOA. He says: "Accept my unilateral changes or I will sanction you." If he does he is openly breaching the agreement. No other country will follow him in that. Iran will simply buy and sell outside of the U.S. realm.

Trump has some (spurious) aims. He speaks loudly and carries a twig. He has no strategy to achieve his aims.

johnf

Like the Syrian missile attack which struck a near-empty airfield which the Russians had been pre-warned about, this is posturing.

Surrounded by clouds of hell-fire rhetoric, it is gesture politics, doing the minimum necessary to keep the Israel/Saudi lobbies happy. The Syrians continue to advance on many fronts, the Europeans and the rest of the world will continue to trade with Iran (as will Boeing and American oil companies by backdoor means), while the Israeli and Saudi lobbies and those American citizens dim enough to believe their propaganda will think how great it is to have a president who at last stands up to the Iranian terrorists.

Trump is following in the footsteps of Obama. Publically paying homage to and signalling submission to Israel and Saudi Arabia, privately ensuring that America continues to follow at least a semblance of an independent foreign policy.

Not as bad as it could have been.

different clue

Trump is looking less like a prize bull and more like a mad cow . . . at least to me.

Since when did Trump ever care about "the spirit of" a deal when he was doing all his real estate development hustling?

Insisting on "the spirit of" the deal is simply creating a false condition designed to be not-definable and not-meetable so as to fabricate an excuse to back out of the agreement for any reason or no reason at all.

This could be EUrope's big chance to come face to face with itself in terms of whether EUrope wants to be a Free and Equal independent region or not. China and Russia will be watching Europe's reaction to this decertification very closely.

Hopefully the cooler heads in Iran can keep the hard line motormouths shutted up till this process of dividing the pro-deal countries from the anti-deal countries plays out to the very end.

Medicine Man

The game plan seems to be to pour sand into the gears of the JCPOA until the agreement "breaks", thus precipitating a crisis that can be used as a casus belli against Iran. The usual suspects in Washington probably think they can get both a freeze on Iranian weapon programs and a favorable reshuffling of the geopolitical landscape after they regime change Iran. Unfortunately, Trump is proving very pliable in this regard.

As others have noted, going down this road really will destroy any chance the US has of negotiating with North Korea. Kim's paranoia seems to be based around a belief that no agreement with the US is worth the paper it is written on and abrogating a signed treaty with Iran will only feed that impression.

Medicine Man

Eager to read your take on this, Col. Lang.

Other than non-proliferation, I can't see what US national interest is served by ratcheting up tensions with Iran.

outthere

Gorbachev calls for USA/Russia summit.
My plea to the presidents of Russia and U.S.
By Mikhail Gorbachev
https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/my-plea-to-the-presidents-of-russia-and-u-s/

Babak Makkinejad

EU will have to comply with US, there is no way for them to shield themselves and their Iranian trade from US sanctions.

It will further diminish them, but they brought this all unto themselves; propping themselves to be more than they actually were (and are).

Babak Makkinejad

EU will fold, they have no cards.

Laura

Lars and DJK -- I believe you have identified the major problem of a Trump Presidency to the national interest of the United States and to the safety of its citizens and residents: NO ONE can trust in the precedents of any previous administrations. All past negotiations and precedents are up for grabs -- by the p___y grabber. He has no sense of the importance of the continuity of integrity.

Dangerous times for all of us when we cannot rely on the President to appreciate this amazing gift of past governance he has been given.

Croesus

In 2008, before elections, Dennis Ross & Michelle Fluornoy (who was on tap to be HRC's SecDef) wrote a white paper laying out just such a scenario -- US would offer Iran a deal it could not accept; when Iran inevitably refused, US would say, See, they won't cooperate. Old & tired game from "the smartest people in the room."

https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/iran-assessing-u-s-strategic-options

Kooshy

You are right on EU, but it is too late to make any effect on Iran’ foreign policy. The issue with Iran never was or is about her Nuclear program, it always was, is and will be about Iran’ foreign policy, which Iranians showed, and will insist they are not willing to negotiate their foreign policy or they will ever accept a forign involvement in their affairs.

Oilman2

This is just a really good example of US foreign policy being "non-agreement capable". It bolsters Russian positioning just by having been uttered.

If the deal gets into congress, it is likely that it will go nowhere or else revert to sanctions. In the case of sanctions, let me apprise all of you that Iran, due to these same long-lasting sanctions, already has myriad workarounds. Within the oilfield service sector, Iran has been actively growing her own industry with the participation of some EU countries in technology transfer. Since China is the primary source for pipe in the world, they are not at all concerned with steel pipe. With China having copied much of American oilfield equipment quite decently, Iran has that sourced as well.

Everyone has seen their drone program, and it is booming. I have friends in Dubai and India that bought some small commercial drones and are tickled with them. Their military is expanding capabilities quarterly - hard to argue that sanctions are hurting them overmuch in that arena.

From my POV, there is zero benefit for the EU to go along with this, as exemplified by their statement regarding Trumps.

It is obvious that while sanctions may hurt Iran to some degree, they have been hammered with them for so long that the workarounds are in place. In my business, we would love to see sanctions gone where we could get into their market.

Overall, if India and Pakistan have nukes, then there isn't any big rationale for excluding Iran from the club. India and Pakistan have long been antagonistic, yet nobody has 'pulled the pin'. Israel may not like it, but they don't have the clout to take on Iran, excluding nukes, anyway.

My feeling is that the imposition of sanctions and abrogation of the JCPOA will hurt the USA in the foreign policy arena and in business much more than it will hurt Iran. It will hurt the EU more, and push them to looking eastward more. Iran has already adapted quite well to sanctions - they are effectively just a pain in their ass, little more.

Pouring sand in the gears is just not going to work. Iran IS NOT Iraq, nor is it Syria or Grenada...

different clue

Babak Makkinejad,

EU has over a million square miles. EU has over 300 million people. EU could be food-sovereign and food-self-sufficient and food-autarchic if the EUropeans wanted to be. EU has the economy and thing-making capacity to withdraw from NATO and create its own NEATO and its own defense industry for its own separate defense if the EUropeans want to do that.

They have a whole deck full of solid gold cards. No one can force them to take a dive. The only dive they would take is the dive they want take. This is what China and Russia will be watching very carefully for . . . to see how EUrope reveals what it is by choosing what it wants.

ISL

Medicine Man,

I am more worried about the precedent on the belief that no agreement with the US is worth the paper it is written on by China and Russia and the acceleration of re-alignment of the BRICs and other developing world.

Kooshy

IMO, EU don’t have much choice to be independent of US on Iran issue. Preventing EU’ luxury goods export to US doesn’t hurt US average income consumers, but stopping China’ consumer goods to US hurts US economy immediately and will be felt by every level of consumerism in US, that IMO gives less leverage to US over China than does that of EU.

iowa steve

You may well be correct regarding the current dilemma, but imho at some point in time the powers that be in the EU will recognize the disconnect between their interests and the interests of the US.

For the present, do you think the US is willing to sanction the entire EU for whatever trade it may continue with Iran in the event the JCPOA is jettisoned?

Castellio

I find it informative that those warriors raring to go, and given permission to slip the leash, are to be found in the Treasury Department.

paul

i think and as i have spoken to people about it realize im one of the only ones, but what i see unfolding is a joint isreali/usa war on Hezbollah, its the only part of the iranian/iraq/syria/lebanon, alliance that they could theoretically attack full force while preventing it from escalating out of control(im not saying it would not, but it is within the realm of possibility)

D

Absolutely correct. The EU has a great hand to play. The question is, do they have the balls to call the US bluff?

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