On the heels of the first protests to hit the Iranian regime, Washington will turn the screw by negating financial benefits afforded by the nuclear deal. To this end, President Donald Trump will use the deadlines he faces as of next week for certifying the Iranian nuclear deal and approving sanctions waivers. This intent was indicated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an AP interview Friday, Jan. 5.
Since the president had demanded that the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran be either “fixed or cancelled,” Tillerson said the administration was working with lawmakers on legislation for making it more acceptable to the president. Last October, Trump reluctantly waived sanctions for another three months. However, since sanctions relief was not incorporated in the nuclear deal, which Iran signed with six world nations three years ago, the US may set them aside without being accused of non-compliance. The US may therefore certify the framework while emptying it of the economic benefits the Obama administration granted, which funneled hundreds of billions of dollars to the Iranian treasury.
This is what Tillerson meant by “fixing” rather than “cancelling” the nuclear accord. He is charged with reformulating the deal, while upholding the Trump policy for countering Iran’s regional aggression and continuing support for anti-regime protests. These steps are components of the drawn-out, staged war of attrition the Trump administration has begun orchestrating against the revolutionary Shiite regime in Tehran for the year of 2018.
The following steps are already in the pipeline, DEBKAfile reports:
- President Trump may refrain this time from signing on to the sanction waivers, but may re-certify Iran’s compliance with the accord.
- The US Treasury Department has meanwhile announced new sanctions targeting banks, financial entities and officials – whether involved in Iran’s missile program or propping up the Revolutionary Guard Corps and its actions to suppress popular dissent.
- Washington will likewise target entities in the Middle East and beyond that serve Tehran and receive Iranian financial assistance and weapons. Examples are Lebanon, Hizballah, the Iraqi Shiite militias under Iranian command, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others.
- A broad US strategy is now in place for halting or slashing American aid programs to entities and governments which refuse to cooperate with the administration’s policy objectives.
- Donald Trump’s original plan was to work closely with the Europeans on his drive against Iran. Since the European governments have not only opted out of cooperation but are flatly opposed to US support for the Iranian protesters, Washington is forging ahead on its own, without reference to any European capital.
Trump has thus scrapped one of the basic principles which gave birth to the nuclear accord, close cooperation between the US, Russia and the leading European powers.
- The breakup of this transatlantic partnership confronts Russia’s Vladimir Putin with a dilemma. Lining up with Europe on Iran would place Moscow on a collision course with the Trump administration. That Moscow knows exactly what is at stake was evident in the remarks made by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Jan. 4, in response to Washington’s call for a UN Security Council to discuss repression in Iran: “We warn the US against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He also cautioned Washington against being “tempted to use the moment to raise new issues with regard to the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear accord.)