Thursday, August 16, 2018 06:00 PM

Trump’s Dangerous Move on Iran

As anticipated, President Trump has announced the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear agreement with Iran. This brazen and unwarranted reneging from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which was signed by six countries with Iran, is going to have serious consequences for peace in the Middle East.

The nuclear agreement was signed in 2015 after protracted negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, i.e., the five permanent members of the Security Council (United States, Russia, China, France and UK) and Germany. This agreement limited the enrichment of fuel produced by nuclear reactors in Iran; it also provided for export of heavy water abroad and stringent inspections of Iran’s nuclear installations. In return, the sanctions imposed on Iran were to be lifted stage by stage corresponding to compliance by Iran on implementing its part of the deal.

All reports show that the implementation of the nuclear agreement had brought about the desired results. As late as February 2018, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated that Iran is in compliance with the deal.

However, the US  circles have never reconciled to Iran becoming a full-fledged power in the region being able to develop economically without the restrictions imposed by sanctions. An influential section of the American security establishment has since the days of President Bush targeted Iran as the main threat in West Asia. The recent events in Syria where the Bashar Al Assad government has thwarted the armed uprising backed by US and its regional allies like Saudi Arabia with the help of Russia and Iran have only heightened the paranoia fuelled by them regarding Iran.

The Netanyahu government of Israel has been leading the attack on the nuclear agreement which has now found support from President Trump. The United States-Israel axis hypocritically wishes to keep Israel as the only nuclear armed country in the region. The irony is that Israel which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is accusing Iran which is a party to the NPT of violating the non-proliferation regime.

Trump has also found support from the Saudi ruler who has declared open hostilities with Iran and is willing to cooperate with Israel to counter their common enemy.

President Trump has ignored the entreaties of his close European allies, France, Britain and Germany, not to pull out of the treaty and try and find some way to strengthen some of the provisions of the agreement. All the three countries have expressed their disapproval of Trump’s action.

The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has called upon the European allies to ensure that the agreement remains in place, failing which he has ordered the country’s atomic energy authority to prepare to enrich uranium to “industrial levels”.

Every effort should be made by the four permanent members of the Security Council, other than the US, who are part of the treaty to maintain the observance of the agreement.

President Trump’s move signals a new aggressive phase in West Asia under the auspices of the emerging US-Israel-Saudi Arabia axis. Already, Israel has conducted missile strikes on Iranian installations based in Syria. After Iraq, Libya and Syria, the US has now targeted Iran. The threat of an armed conflict is now looming in the region.

President Trump has announced that he will reimpose sanctions and introduce additional penalties. It will be the duty of the four other permanent members of the Security Council to stand firm and refuse to accept such sanctions or to legitimise them as UN sanctions through the Security Council.

As far as India is concerned, the US’s hostile manoeuvers against Iran should be a cause of deep concern. India had resumed buying oil from Iran in larger quantities. There was a revival of the economic and trade relations with Iran including the investment of the Chabahar port. The United States can now be expected to pressurise India to cut these ties. The Modi government which has, short-sightedly, got into a deeper strategic embrace with the United states, must now draw the line and refuse to circumscribe its relations with Iran which will be adverse for its national interests.

Here, one must recall, the way the Manmohan Singh government succumbed to US pressure on Iran and voted against Iran in the IAEA on the nuclear issue twice in 2005 and 2006. Further, it gave in to US demands and drastically reduced oil imports from Iran and cut back on economic ties. This must not happen again.

President Trump’s unilateral step will have repercussions on another front. The DPRK leader Kim Jong-un is scheduled to meet Trump at a third venue in a few weeks time. The North Korean leader will be understandably cautious about coming to any agreement with the United States on the nuclear issue after Trump’s withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal. He would be fully justified since Trump has proved that the United States is a power that cannot be trusted to stand by its agreements and commitments.

 

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