US President Donald Trump unveiled a new US strategy for Iran, while outlining the Islamic Republic’s 38-year record of violence since its 1979 coup. He listed the massacres of Americans its proxies perpetrated in Beirut in the 1980s, support for such terrorist groups as Al Qaeda (after 9/ll) and Hizballah and fomenting vicious civil wars in Yemen and Syria that destabilized the Middle East.
Trump then listed some of the measures he had approved:
- Action to counter Iran’s destabilizing operations in the Mid-East and outside.
- New sanctions to block financial revenue which serves to fund its nuclear and
ballistic missile programs. The $100 billion Tehran received in sanctions relief
for signing the nuclear deal – Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – in 2015
was spent on those activities.
- The United States will prevent Iran from conducting ballistic missile tests a further developing its ICBM program.
- Iran would not be allowed to continue its threat to international navigation in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba.
- Tougher sanctions for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), “the corrupt arm of the supreme leader, which has hijacked Iran’s financial assets to foment terror and supply proxies with weapons.” Those further sanctions will apply to the entire IRGC, which controls one-third of Iran’s national economy, including its oil industry and its nuclear program, as well as its agents and the terrorist proxies it runs. He urged US allies to join in this step.
- International inspections of Iran’s compliance would be tightened. Among Iran’s direct violations of the accord, Trump cited production in excess of 130 metric tons of heavy water, failure to meet commitments on advanced centrifuges, and “intimidating international nuclear inspectors,” who were not allowed to visit military sites suspected of clandestine nuclear weapons activities. He also ordered a review by US intelligence of Iran’s dealings with North Korea.
All these measures and sanctions are potentially capable of shaking the ayatollahs regime to its military and political foundations.
In his speech, Trump announced he would not re-certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, because of its many flaws. He also left himself free to end US participation in the accord if those flaws were not addressed. He called on Congress to step in to correct those flaws and on American allies for cooperation.
However, DEBKAfile’s sources report that he can’t count on the cooperation of either congress or European governments, who announced their objections in advance to the new course he has charted against Iran. He may be left with no option but to deal with the campaign of sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards by presidential directives.
Sensing which way the wind was blowing, Iranian officials trumpeted almost daily threats of dire consequences if President Trump laid a finger on the Revolutionary Guards. IRGC chief Gen. Ali Jafari warned that if the Guards were targeted, they would treat the US armed forces as an enemy on a par with the Islamic State.
Military sources in Iran have stressed to DEBKA file that the regime would not let the Trump speech pass without a response – and not just by words, but by deeds, in three spheres:
a) Diplomatic measures to be formulated in the coming hours. They could include enlisting Russia, China and the European Union for international condemnation of the United States.
b) Military steps against American and allied military and civilian targets in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, which will be entrusted to the Guards agents themselves in the Gulf and surrogates like Hizballah and Yemen’s Houthi insurgents.
c) Supply of strategic weaponry, such as long-range missiles to pro-Iranian proxies.