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    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, top center, reviews army troops marching during the 37th anniversary of Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran, in front of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017

    US-Iran Standoff is Entering Critical Phase, May Enflame New War in Mid-East

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    The Trump administration's policy toward Iran may drag the Middle East into yet another military conflict and, what is more dangerous, deal a heavy blow to the nuclear non-proliferation regime, Russian researcher Vladimir Sazhin of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Sputnik.

    The abolition of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, by the US will inevitably lead to America losing its reputation and eventually the fall of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, Vladimir Sazhin, a researcher at the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Sputnik Persian.

    Sazhin explained that Washington's withdrawal from the JCPOA would deal a heavy blow to negotiations with countries seeking to produce their own atomic weapons, most notably, North Korea.

    "One way or another, all these will make the US a pariah state, which will have no moral right to call anyone for negotiating new nuclear deals," the Russian scholar stressed.

    Trump Decertifies Iran Nuclear Deal

    Last Friday the Trump administration signaled that it will not certify the JCPOA.  In accordance with the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA), the US administration has to certify its commitment to the deal every 90 days. The previous deadline was October 15.

    However, Sazhin drew attention to the fact that US President Donald Trump neither withdrew from the nuclear accord, nor denounced it.

    "[Trump] ordered the study of the possibility of changing [the JCPOA] conditions, and also announced that the American side may quit the deal at anytime," the researcher pointed out. "However, Mr. Trump did not name the methodology, mechanisms, ways and tools of this hypothetical termination [of the nuclear accord]."

    "This is not just a bilateral American-Iranian document, it is an international pact approved by the UN Security Council," Sazhin highlighted.

    Meanwhile, Trump's advisers admitted that Iran was fulfilling the terms of the JCPOA. According to the academic, this is perfectly in-line with the facts, given that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has already confirmed eight times that Tehran remains committed to the deal. Therefore, the US president does not have a legitimate reason to break the deal, the researcher added.

    On the other hand, Trump's decision to reconsider the agreement is unlikely to bear any fruit, since virtually all the world's major powers oppose the move, he pointed out, adding that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Tehran would never negotiate an already approved nuclear accord with world powers.

    "Russia, China and the European Union also indicated that the JCPOA does not need additions and improvements," Sazhin said, "It is noteworthy that Britain, Germany and France emphasize the nuclear non-proliferation aspect of the deal saying that it fulfills its task. They voiced support for the JCPOA and urged the US not to take steps to undermine it."

    It is also important that the lifting of sanctions on Tehran opened the Iranian market to international businesses. The scholar underscored that "virtually all the EU countries, as well as Japan, South Korea, China, the countries of South-East Asia are interested in developing economic relations with Iran and are against a new anti-Iran campaign and new anti-Iran sanctions."

    Apparently being aware of the unpopularity of the US's stance on the deal, the American president shifted the burden towards US congressmen who have 60 days to decide whether to resume an anti-Iran sanctions regime and 10 days to vote on it, Sazhin explained, adding that the fate of the JCPOA will have been determined by December 24. 

    "There are few supporters of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) in America, but there are many opponents of Trump. Therefore, it remains to be seen how Congress will behave in the December days," Sazhin told Sputnik.

    According to the expert, it can't be excluded that Trump is trying to manipulate Iran into exiting the deal thus untying Washington's hands.

    The problem is that there is strong opposition to the JCPOA among IRI power circles. The collapse of the deal may shatter the position of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the main proponent of the nuclear accords in Iran, and bolster those who opposed the conclusion of the agreement, Sazhin noted, referring among others to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

    Will Trump Designate IRGC a Terrorist Organization?

    IRGC have good reasons to be dissatisfied with the current state of events: Besides throwing the fate of the atomic accord into doubt last Friday, the Trump administration announced new sanctions against the powerful Iranian military organization.

    "I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism, and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates," the US president said.

    There are fears that Trump may order the US State Department to officially designate the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization, along with al-Qaeda and Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).

    Sazhin said that both Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and the commander-in-chief of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, made it clear that it could adopt "extremely tough" counter-measures. Furthermore, Jafari dropped the hint that Tehran may in its turn designate the US Army as a terrorist entity and make it the IRGC's target across the world and primarily in the Middle East.

    The abolition of the JCPOA and further crackdown on the IRGC by Washington may result in Iran's withdrawal from the nuclear accord and the revival of the country's nuclear program, the researcher warned, adding that this would prompt a harsh reaction from Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US that may translate into yet another military conflict in the region.

    "The 40-year 'cold war' between the US and Iran is entering its critical phase because of the actions of the Trump administration. Not only Iran, not only the already war-torn Middle East, but, perhaps most importantly, the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is under threat," Sazhin concluded.

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    Tags:
    anti-Iranian sanctions, Iran nuclear deal, Iran's nuclear program, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Daesh, Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), al-Qaeda, Hassan Rouhani, Donald Trump, Iran, United States, Russia, Middle East
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