- Iran's recent actions appear to be a move to scrap the JCPoA in such a way as to vindicate the American position on this deal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), a nuclear non-proliferation deal that was a signed agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and several other countries, appears to be scrapped.
Several news articles attest to this:
- Iran says it will breach its nuclear stockpile limit in ten days
- US sends 1,000 additional troops to Persian Gulf region
- Trump will consider military response to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon
These reports all discuss Iran’s intention to enrich uranium at much higher levels than the 3.6% enrichment levels allowed it by the terms of the JCPoA agreement. Iran threatens to pass its limits within ten days: (excerpt below, emphasis added)
Iran warned European nations on Monday that it would breach in 10 days the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement unless they take action to alleviate the pressure of tightening U.S. sanctions in the coming weeks.
The spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said the country would exceed a cap on stockpiles of low-grade uranium on June 27 and threatened to raise enrichment purity beyond a 3.67% limit meant to prevent Iran from making weapons-grade material.
“This is an important test for Europe. It’s to their detriment that the U.S. is making decisions for them,” he said in a televised address from Arak heavy water plant. “Meetings and summits won’t suffice. Once they take actionable measures, we can return to our previous commitments.”
The announcement raises pressure on European nations who’ve urged Tehran to stick with a deal even after it was abandoned by the U.S. but have struggled to come up with a vehicle that would allow the Iranians to keep trading. It will also stoke further friction with the U.S., which has accused the Islamic Republic of being behind a spate of attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz shipping chokepoint. Iran denies any wrongdoing.
One major criticism of Iran’s actions when the US was preparing to withdraw from the JCPoA was that the position of Iran’s leadership was to try to push the rest of the geopolitical powers around so Iran could have what it wanted. In fact, the JCPoA itself is a deeply flawed agreement, based in the ideology that the Iranians would be peaceful if left alone.
Coupled with the nature of the rhetoric from Iran against the United States most specifically, but also its rhetoric against Israel, the country appears to have some other desire than peace in terms of its nuclear development activities. Whether by virtue of the actual intent of the Iranian leadership to actually bomb Israel out of existence or to be otherwise aggressive towards any other country, the posturing is a bad sign.
(It is particularly important to understand that even a nation whose existence is so roundly controversial (and often damned) as Israel is, is still nonetheless, a nation, and right or wrong history-wise, there are many innocent people that live in this area that do not deserve to be the target of a threat. This goes for every nation on the face of this earth.)
A good example of how it is properly done is Russia. President Vladimir Putin has gone on record creating and announcing the creation of, extremely sophisticated and deadly weapons technology, and that declaration was specifically aimed at the United States because of the US’ own intense efforts to isolate the Russian Federation and make it buckle under to a liberal globalist (but US-led) hegemony.
Mr. Putin has never expressed animosity towards the US, but he cast the situation in the light of Russia’s wish to remain independent from the world, from outside forces, and to chart its own destiny. At all these times, though, Mr. Putin addresses the Americans as “partners.” He is able to deliver very strong language without being provocative.
Perhaps the Iranians simply do not know how to do this, but that is unlikely, given their close relationship with Russia and other members of the global community.
As it stands, the Iranian warning to Europe appears to be in the hopes that European nations will “force the Americans’ hand” to make the United States back off from the severe economic sanctions it reimposed on the Islamic country after leaving the JCPoA.
It is unlikely that this move will work, and in fact, it may hand US President Trump his next big win.
The problem is that the JCPoA was not an agreement signed only with America. The following nations are parties to this act:
- The European Union (overall)
- The United Kingdom
Of these, the big players are the UK, Russia and China.
All of these countries joined the agreement because what Iran was doing represented a problem to them as well as to the United States.
There may have actually been an effort by Russia, for example, to use the JCPoA to prevent the United States’ policies from damaging its ally, Iran.
TASS reported back in September of 2018 that Russia was pledged to stand by the provisions of the JCPoA, and all the European signatories echoed this commitment to stick by the treaty, including Great Britain. At the time, Iran reiterated its own commitment to abide by the agreement. However, this is now changed with the rhetoric ramping up against Iran, including accusations that it carried out attacks against oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz recently.
Iran’s idea appears to be an attempt to isolate the United States’ efforts against itself by threatening the other signatories with Iran’s departure from the JCPoA. “If you don’t make the Americans stop, we are going to make more enriched nuclear material!!”
The only thing is, this is a gamble that the Iranians are quite likely to lose.
Threatening the remaining signatories to the deal who have acted in good faith (rightly or wrongly) with the annihilation of that deal, appears to expose the nature of the powers that be in the Iranian government. This tactic has worked in the past, and given the nature of the European powers (including Russia) to act in cooperation with one another, it is understandable why Russia and the other signatories sharply differed with the US’ withdrawal from the deal. The US admittedly does have a pattern of going it alone, and its recent foreign policy directions (over the last 20-30 years) have been quite often out of touch with the notion of cooperation with and within the world community, to some very bad results.
This may have emboldened the Iranians to believe that they can try to strong-arm the Europeans into going their way. However, we are dealing with a country that is on record for threatening other powers (Israel and the United States), and that on theological grounds within Islam. Telling Europe to do it Iran’s way (or else!) may not work.
Part of the dynamic here is, of course, the nature of Donald Trump, the President of the United States. As a negotiator and deal maker, he is unafraid to walk away from a deal when it is bad for him. He is very clear and unequivocal on the matter that he will not make a deal that harms his country. It is therefore almost completely unlikely that Iran’s rhetorical tantrum is going to faze Mr. Trump in any way. For him, in fact, this likely will simply mean that he is about to win the fight.
And, in this situation, he may well do so. In creating a situation where the country who is actually on record for expressing hostile intents (over and over again!) tries to put pressure on, shall we say, more civilized nations to do its bidding, those civilized countries may in fact end up seeing this behavior as unacceptable. “You want to be with us, you need to calm down and start playing like us, or we will not help you!”
This is the point of tension.
A globalist international culture is likely to play the weak card in this matter, and, Germany and France are both wishy-washy globalists. The UK is undergoing a transition to a more nationalist point of view, and Russia and China are both already there, plus they are so powerful that they can “spin the globe” any way they wish, but each nation has expressed no desire for hegemony.
While the US does act like an imperial force in terms of how it throws power around, here, the matter of restraining an angry power may create a moment of alliance, with Europe, Russia and China rejecting Iran’s behavior.
If this is the case, however, do not expect it to be discussed openly. Instead, expect the news about Iran to gradually die away (as reporters pivot back to Mueller, perhaps), and at some point, maybe six months down the road after an unreported-on period of quiet in the area around Iran, we will hear that Iran wants to negotiate with the US.
This will come as the result of quiet guidance and advice, most likely on the part of the Russian Federation, in such a way as to not overtly embarass Iran, but to make it appear that they are “evolving” in their own attitudes.
When predicting the future, of course, one never knows, but in light of several significant realities, this outcome seems likely. Those realities are as follows:
- There is no actual grounds for military conflict
- Military conflict would be repudiated by the “other side” of whoever started it. If the US, then Russia would be forced to repudiate it. If Iran, Russia would be forced to stand aside and let the US repudiate it. In such a case, Iran would suffer horrific damage.
- Such a war would absolutely not escalate. This is not a worthwhile option to go nuclear in any possible way.
- Iran also knows that the US President wants to make a deal. They further know that a deal is possible, only for the price of laying aside pride.
- The European signatories do not want a nuclear-armed Iran any more than America does. Iran does not conduct itself in such a manner as to be considered a “safe” partner in this area of power, and they are not helping themselves now with their threats.
All of these point towards an eventual new deal made with the US president, likely one that will both severely and truly curtain Iran’s nuclear development, but also one which, like North Korea, will offer alternatives that can bring great prosperity to the Iranian people. If the mullahs come to see that they have more to gain with a real deal with the US than they have to lose by acting as they are now, then they will move accordingly.
Time will tell.