(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Despite Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, signed between the United States, Iran, and other world powers, the U.S. continues to provoke the Islamic Republic by slapping fresh sanctions on companies and individuals it claims provide material support to Iran’s military, as well as organizations involved in the country’s ballistic missile program.
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The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced on Tuesday it had “designated 16 entities and individuals for engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.”
The announcement came just one day after the Trump administration certified that Tehran is in compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Last Friday, the U.S. lifted nuclear-related sanctions under the JCPOA.
According to the New York Times, Trump reluctantly certified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, but only after hours of “arguing with his top national security advisers.” Trump reportedly spent 55 minutes of the meeting expressing his desire to kill the nuclear accord, even in the face of mounting opposition to his perspective from the likes of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, and Trump’s national security advisor General H.R. McMaster (all of whom are staunch anti-Iranian war hawks).
That being said, the new sanctions are seemingly unrelated to the JCPOA and instead “target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran’s provocative and destabilizing behaviour,” according to a statement released by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
“We will continue to target the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] and pressure Iran to cease its ballistic missile program and malign activities in the region,” Mnuchin added.
In turn, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) responded by warning the U.S. against imposing the sanctions, as well as warning the U.S. not to designate them as a terrorist organization, suggesting doing so would mean “a big risk for America and its bases and forces deployed in the region.”
This statement is quite clearly in relation to Iran’s ability to strike the wider region with its newly developed missile capabilities, as well as the fact that it has troops, proxy armies, and militiamen stationed in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon who would be more than capable of striking U.S.-backed personnel and their bases. Indeed, Iranian-backed troops were provoking an American base in Syria for a significant period in June this year.
So why would the U.S. confirm the JCPOA is working effectively only to continue to look for ways to escalate a fight between the American military and Iran?
To put it simply, Trump wants out of the nuclear deal completely, but his advisers know better than to risk the fallout with the international community that would occur once it became clear that it was the U.S. that forced the nuclear deal to fail. By provoking Iran outside the framework of the agreement as much as possible, the U.S. can likely force Iran to withdraw from the agreement instead, thereby laying the blame with Tehran instead of Washington.
In an interview on Monday with National Interest, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, confirmed that if it came to a major violation of the terms of the agreement, it would be Iran that would walk away from the JCPOA.
As the New York Times explains:
“That would be an outcome welcomed by the Trump administration. Top officials like Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Mattis have expressed concern about the effect on American relations with European allies if Mr. Trump were to unilaterally pull out, especially after he already announced his intention to back out of the Paris climate change accord that Europeans strongly support.”
“But some advisers to the president argue that if they can provoke Iran into being the one to scrap the nuclear deal, it will leave the United States in a stronger position.” [emphasis added]
A stronger position for what, one must wonder. Clearly, America’s decades-long infatuation with Iran has nothing to do with concerns about the Islamic Republic’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon given the JCPOA has proven to be quite successful in alleviating those fears.
As a recent report conducted by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute noted, Iran intends “to destroy the reach of the U.S.-led order into what they perceive to be their legitimate sphere of influence,” and this is why Iran is deemed to be a threat to the United States government.
In other words, Iran believes that the U.S. should have little to no say in the affairs of the geographical sphere that comes under Iran’s arc of influence – and this is why the U.S. continues to lead us down the never-ending warpath with yet another country in the Middle East.
This really doesn’t sound like something worth losing American lives over, not to mention the countless number people who will be killed throughout the region due to the domino battle effect such a conflict would have. One can only hope that cooler heads prevail and that if the JCPOA is torn up in the future, history will rightly remember the party responsible for selfishly leading the world down a path of rampant death and destruction.