Trump Primed for Iran: Swallow Tough Nuclear Terms, Get out of Iraq and Syria
First insights obtained exclusively by DEBKA Weekly into US President-elect Donald Trump‘s backroom foreign policy deliberations indicate that Iran is destined to be branded America’s foremost enemy and is in for a hard time from his administration.
There are signs that one of his first actions on entering the White House after Jan. 20 will be to scrap the nuclear deal the US and five other global powers signed with Iran, for curtailing its nuclear weapons program, and replace it with a much harsher bilateral deal with the United States.
The secret clauses and concessions approved by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will go out the window. The Trump version will mandate the termination of Iran’s clandestine military nuclear program, development of ballistic missiles and military space satellite projects.
In readiness for Tehran’s flat rejection of this diktat, a list of American economic and military penalties has been drawn up, which are a lot tougher than any imposed hitherto.
It will also be take-it-or-leave it for America’s co-signers of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran – Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. The new version’s terms will be non-negotiable.
That at all events is the strategy for Iran evolving in Trump Tower, Manhattan.
DEBKA Weekly has learned from its sources in Washington and New York that the team working on the revamped nuclear accord was set up two weeks ago and managed by the designated National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
A few days ago, Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of Exxon/Mobil, after being tapped as Secretary of State took over. He expanded the team by injecting oil, military and intelligence experts and ex-officials who were employed by the giant corporation in their specialist fields. This obviated the need to call on Obama administration NSC, State Department, Pentagon and Treasury staff for aid in the future Trump administration’s policy-making.
Changes are certainly in store for more than one department in the future administration, especially those dealing with the Middle East.
Our sources have learned, for instance, that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne Woods Paterson is to be replaced by a proponent of Trump’s strategy for Iran. One candidate under consideration is Deborah Jones, serving US Ambassador to Libya.
Other positions will be staffed by individuals with a record of opposing the nuclear deal with Iran, or those whose ideas for curbing Iranian expansion in the region were rebuffed by the Obama White House.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only world leader whose cooperation Trump may seek for getting his Iran policy on track – hence the usefulness of Tillerson as secretary of state.
The proposition he will be asked to put before Putin is roughly this: If Moscow has an interest in cooperating with Washington in the Middle East and other parts of the world, then the Russian President must not only sign off on Trump’s Iran policy, but also take a hand in its execution.
The task to be laid on Putin was choreographed in conferences led by Trump with Vice-President elect Mike Pence, designated Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, Tillerson, Flynn and his future deputy, K. T. McFarland. They decided that Putin would be asked to undertake the task of getting Iranian military forces out of Iraq and Syria as down-payment on the price for cooperation with Washington.
One of Trump’s prime foreign policy objectives is not just to get a few thousand Revolutionary Guards Corps officers and men withdrawn from those war-torn countries, but also to remove the host of pro-Iranian Shiite Iraqi, Afghan and Pakistani militias, planted there as proxies to fight Tehran’s battles for influence.
Syria must also evict the Lebanese Hizballah, which has been fighting for Bashar Assad, and remove the bases he granted this Lebanese terrorist group for its services.
In Tillerson’s view, there is a good chance of winning Putin over to the Trump policies, if he can be convinced that the US president-elect is serious in his intent to maintain real ties of cooperation with Moscow.