Elbaradei: Trump Propaganda on Iran Nuclear Deal like Run-up to Iraq War

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Trump administration (actually UN Ambassador and far right Evangelical Nikki Haley) has decertified Iran from compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or Nuclear Deal of 2015. It would be interesting to know how many of Haley’s stupid and inaccurate talking points were provided by Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

The decertification means very little, since Iran is not actually in violation of the agreement and anyway it was concluded with the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, Russia, Britain, France and the USA), not just with Washington. A US certification is not even mentioned in the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency is the body responsible for certifying Iranian compliance, and it has repeatedly so affirmed.

Ominously, the former head of the IAEA, Mohammed Albaradei, who pointed out in spring of 2003 that the George W. Bush administration’s case for going to war against Iraq was bogus has weighed in on this new warmongering ploy:

The JCPOA is narrowly focused on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program, which Tehran has all along maintained is only for the purpose of producing fuel for its nuclear power plants at Bushehr. It denied to Iran a heavy water reactor, which is far easier to use to collect fissile material than light water reactors. It limited the number of centrifuges to 6,000. It limited the amount of uranium enriched to 19.5% for the Iranian medical reactor (which makes isotopes for treating cancer) that can be stockpiled in usable form. And it subjected Iran to the most stringent inspection regime ever imposed on any country.

Iran is observing all four of these conditions.

The Trump-Haley fake news document that challenges Iran’s compliance does not actually deny that Iran is complying with the JCPOA. Trump incorrectly asserts that military bases have not been inspected. The IAEA inspectors visited the Parchin base in 2015. It is not part of the regular inspections because the JCPOA excludes military bases. In fact the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty excludes military bases, at the insistence of the US and the then USSR. So Washington has only itself to blame. In any case, that objection is a red herring, since the inspectors can ask to visit Parchin at any time and would be allowed to do so. They deliberately aren’t making the request these days because they do not want to give the impression that the Trumpies have a leg to stand on with this critique.

The list of grievances Trump/Haley present against Iran have nothing to do with the nuclear deal. They don’t like Iran’s ballistic missile development program. I’m not sure why, since Iran has nothing impressive to put in the warheads except dumb bombs, which it would be brain dead to launch against nuclear-armed Israel or even against Saudi Arabia, which has a US defense umbrella.

The US complaints also include Iranian support for Hizbullah and intervention in Syria, which Trump and Haley are pleased to call terrorism. But if that is such a bad thing then why not also sanction Vladimir Putin, who is doing the same things in Syria and giving air support to Hizbullah and other Shiite militias? And why is it so bad for Iran to prop up Bashar al-Assad if Trump himself said that Arabs need a strongman at the helm and it is all right with him if al-Assad stays and Putin takes care of Syria? The Haley indictment of Iran has an oddly Neoconservative ring that ill fits with Trump’s positions and ends up condemning Der Donald as much as anyone else.

Not to mention that it has come out that the US saw ISIL growing in eastern Syria and let it do so because they thought it would pressure al-Assad. So who was complicit with terrorism in Syria? Not Hizbullah and Iran, the most effective fighters against ISIL. (Trump and Haley are so ignorant that they do not know that ISIL and al-Qaeda more generally are hyper-Sunni fanatics who have a genocidal attitude toward Shiites such as Iranians, and they even try to implicate Iran in 9/11, which is Alex Jones conspiracy-theory territory).

And they want to sanction the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, escalating the covert struggle between Iran’s national guard and the US security agencies. (Though note that the US military has been de facto allied with the IRGC in Iraq in the fight against ISIL. Maybe now that ISIL is nearly over with as a state, the long knives have come out among the victors?)

The Trump decertification asks the US Congress to make foreign policy, which is not how I remember the Constitution.

As for the likely impact, it will be to bolster the hard liners in Iran like the IRGC and to isolate the US as a rogue nation.

Trump’s move immensely strengthens Khamenei and the IRGC in Iranian politics and flushes President Hassan Rouhani and other centrists down the toilet.

If the goal were to get Iran out of Syria, this way of proceeding forestalls success. Lots of Iranians are embarrassed to be supporting a Baath regime in Damascus, and as the ISIL threat receded so too might have public willingness to incur casualties for the sake of al-Assad.

But now any such calls would be branded as treason in the service of USA imperialism, and successfully so.

Regionally, moreover, the Iraqi government would collapse without IRGC support, and since it increasingly doesn’t need the US, will likely distance itself from Washington over time, increasing rather than decreasing Iranian influence. This will especially be true if Kurds declare independence and are kicked out of the Baghdad government, leaving Arab Iraq 80% Shiite. Nouri al-Maliki already has attempted a vote of no confidence against the Kurdish president. The US has powerful ties of clientelage to Erbil (the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan) and if Baghdad thinks it is insufficiently hard on Barzani, that will be another wedge. Muqtada al-Sadr and other nationalists who want the US back out will be strengthened.

Outgoing German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel observed that if Iran continues to be compliant, we’d now see Europe lining up with Russia and China against the US on the Iran issue. And sure enough, Britain, Germany and France issued a statement today standing behind the nuclear deal and declining to go along with Trump.

In short, this step profoundly weakens the United States internationally and strengthens the worst elements in Iran.

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Related video:

Iran nuclear deal: Trump vows not to sign off agreement – BBC News

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20 Responses

  1. BTW – Space-X follows a similar design philosophy with the Falcon 9 missile – simple to build and launch. Notice how successful they are becoming?

  2. I feel so great. The USA must be a corrupt dying empire, because this is the sort of irresponsible action, with wide consequences, by an unqualified power-holder that corrupt dying empires go through, just before the fall.

    • The sad lesson I have found is that declining empires are incapable of reform before disaster in war. Usually they are incapable even after. Sweden seems to be the exception, after its catastrophic invasion of Russia in the Great Northern War.

      But it pretty much isn’t reform unless you surrender your position as a hegemonic empire and demote yourself to a mere Great Power. I’ve been jumping up and down and screaming for years that the USA has to make that move before it’s pushed under unfavorable circumstances. But too big a gap opened up between the American public and the American antiwar movement; the former believing that hegemony was necessary and inevitable, and the latter believing that the world would become a paradise once American power was utterly extinguished. Now we’re really tumbling into Hell, a multipolarity of fascists and racists, all nuclear-capable.

    • I think that Putin’s best gambit in case of a US war on Iran is not to send troops to help the latter. Ironically, Russia’s interests are best served by doing exactly the same to Iran that Iran did to Iraq during the US invasion and occupation. It did as little as possible. It was able to sit back and pick and choose factions to aid. And it was able to profit from a runup in oil prices due to the unrest.

      The difference this time is that the US simply lacks the means to actually occupy Iran, which clearly would not be in Russia’s interest. The problem is, what if Trump orders a nuclear strike instead?

      • What you’re not understanding is that both Russia and China are heavily invested in Iran from their Silk Road 2:0 to the alternative to SWIFT and Eurasia plus the military alliance of Iran and Russia in Syria and the rest of the region. They, Beijing and Moscow have a lot to lose and we’re not talking about a small economy like Iraq to sit back and forgo a full on frontal assault on a US forces that has already lost in so many places in the region and beyond. And a nuclear strike will guarantee the end of Saudi Arabia and Israel and would be a major disaster for the region. Your statement sounds like a Likud point of view detached from reality.

  3. It is interesting to note that while the whole world has opposed what President Trump said, the Israeli Prime Minister was the only one who openly congratulated Trump for his “courageous decision”, while Saudi Arabia’s support has been more muted. The problem with the Israelis was not the details of the deal. They did not want the United States to have any deal with Iran because it might bring the two countries closer together, as surely the deal did. Their aim from the start had been to demonize and isolate Iran with the hope of inciting a US war against her.

    The speech has definitely strengthened the hardliners in Iran who see Trump’s hostility as the vindication of their warnings that America could no be trusted. President Rouhani has put a brave face on it, saying: “Today the United States is more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal and in its plots against the Iranian people. What was heard today was nothing but the repetition of baseless accusations and swear words that they have repeated for years.” He said of Trump: “He has not studied international law. Can a president annul a multilateral international treaty on his own? Apparently he does not know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States.”

    However, as ElBaradei says, the speech certainly brings to mind the run up to Iraq war, and may mark the beginning of greater hostilities between the two countries. It all depends on what steps Congress and hardliners in Iran take. Contrary to the period under President Obama when various incidents at sea could be easily resolved, this time any incident could be used as an excuse for a major confrontation. So, on the whole, the speech has done a great deal of harm to relations between Iran and the United States and to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

    As for Iraq, last night there were some clashes in Kirkuk between Iraqi and Kurdish forces and those clashes will definitely intensify.

    • Actually, the UAE congratulated Trump as well. Not that it in any way bolsters the stupidity of Trump

  4. Hopefully, the other nations will keep sane, and not give in to America’s war mongering, and the demonizing of Iran. If the other nations have accepted Iran’s compliance, it will make the US look like a trouble maker, doing Israel’s bidding.
    But, when has it stopped us? This continuous attack on Muslim nations is disgusting, and the millions we have killed, injured, and made homeless, should be called genocide.
    I am tired of Israel’s filthy games, and that we have to lose blood and treasure for them. Trump has no clue how to handle this situation, and seems unwilling to listen to military experts, and world leaders. These are frightening times.

  5. Having Trump put the screws to the JCPOA is only another reason for other nations to doubt the word of the U.S., if even on paper, to be discredited in the eyes of the negotiating world to who encounters the USA along the way. Talk about giving cause to N Korea’s Kim Jung un.

    I read about a young Israeli who is very, very, different from such Israeli leaders such as Netanyahu. This young man’s name is Miko Peled, and I suggest that he maybe worth watching, and possibly pulling for. Just thought I mention his name so we all start a conversation about him, as we can verify in mass to how honestly qualified Peled is. I’m tired of being let down over disappointing hope going down the drain with each coming of age new leader. Let’s hope Peled is the real deal.

    With Trump it is never a dull moment. I really do believe the man will do anything to make heads spin with the news. I also believe that Trump’s knowledge of the facts when it comes to everything, but especially Iran, is a disgrace to anyone who does understand the facts of this JCPOA using Trump’s dermatology ‘deal’….it’s all about the deal.

    I don’t know about the rest of you here, but as an American I am embarrassed by our Loudmouth Commander and Chief.

  6. This is The Art of the Deal: bully, bluster, speak loudly and carry a big stick. The big stick used to be slimeball lawyers, Roy Cohn first and foremost among them; now it’s the entire US military establishment.

    It’s how Reichspräsident Strumpf has always operated. We (and the rest of the world) have every right to be appalled, but no right to be surprised.

  7. How can a powerful, wealthy, modern, democracy turn into a dysfunctional menace in a period of ten months? Answer: elect a rabid dog for president, and throw away the leash. Teeth marks everywhere.

  8. Trump’s maneuverings are not really surprising. Iran’s nuclear activities were never really the issue. Europeans, particularly UK, France, Germany, sought to reignite trade with Iran, and putting a damper on the nuclear problem would lift the sanctions that closed those opportunities. Obama wanted to avoid being dragged into a war by Israel which was, or pretended to be, hovering on the brink of attacking Iran.* Quite separately from all that the US wanted regime change in Syria and had been initiating trouble there since 2009 (link to nsnbc.me ). Unfortunately for them the whole thing got so out of hand Russia intervened, Iran and Hezbollah put boots on the ground and the tide turned. This hasn’t affected European trade ambitions with Iran but it worries Israel deeply and further threatens US authority in the area. All Trump is doing is take the veil off real US motives behind the JCPOA and try to get Iran back in a box.

    *It’s notable that the finesse Obama played on Netanyahu with the nuclear agreement was the same Putin played on him by decommissioning Assad’s chemical arsenal.

  9. Actually the Bush admin campaign of lies against Iraq in 2002-3 was much better organized and orchestrated (scores of people on the same lying script) – no comparison in fact to the bumbling Drumph.

  10. “Not to mention that it has come out that the US saw ISIL growing in eastern Syria and let it do so because they thought it would pressure al-Assad. ”

    I have not had a chance to follow the news as carefully as in the past. Could you please provide your source for this information?

  11. Trump maladministration “foreign policy” is under the influence of Netanyahu and the Saudi as filtered by Kirchner, Putin by blackmail and the pure hatred emanating from his well-heeled “base” and their plentiful dupes, the mean-spirited Christian Nationalists.

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