Earlier in the day, newly appointed US State Secretary Mike Pompeo delivered the key points of the US policy on Iran in his first major foreign affairs speech, titled "After the Deal: A New Iran Strategy." The official said that the United States is not willing to renegotiate the Iran nuclear agreement, but would be open to preparing a new deal.
Pompeo reiterated that Washington will re-impose all sanctions on Tehran and enact an unprecedented package of new penalties until Iran stops backing militant groups throughout the Middle East. The state secretary noted that every country has to take part in the United States’ sanctions campaign against Iran.
Effectiveness of US Measures Depends on Actions of E3+2
The US demands, expressed by Pompeo, included a call on Iran to stop backing militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza, the Islamic Jihad in Palestinian territories and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Among other demands, Pompeo said that Iran must stop developing ballistic missiles, release the US citizens, who are being held in Iranian prisons and called for a ban on a heavy-water reactor, which would prevent Iran from developing nuclear energy.
Patrick Basham, the founding director of the Democracy Institute, said that the most likely outcome of the speech would be for the United States to fulfill their promises of sanctions, but that the European Union, Russia and China would not comply with the new measures.
"I think the most probable thing is the Americans go through with what they’re saying they’re going to do, the European Union, Russia, China do some of what’s requested but not all and Iran finds itself in a worse position economically than [it] is today but not as bad a position as she was before the deal," Basham said.
Ali Vaez, the Iran project director at the International Crisis Group, said that it is the European Union, who is now responsible for the consequences of the actions of the United States concerning the nuclear deal.
"Europe now holds the key to what comes next. If it salvages the nuclear deal and uses its resulting leverage to push Iran towards de-escalating regional tensions, it could help avoid another disastrous war in the region," Vaez said.
According to the founding director of the Democracy Institute, the US policy on Iran could be undermined by other parties to the nuclear deal, such as the European Union, Russia and China.
"That could be the Achilles heel of the whole thing, because it’s not just about what the Americans will do now, it’s more about what the other countries will do," Basham stressed.
Iran Likely to Avoid Negotiations On New Deal Despite US Calls
As Pompeo emphasized in his speech that the United States would seek to create a new deal altogether instead of making amendments, Iran is unlikely to engage in the talks on a new deal due to a number of issues, the experts underlined.
"With the United States unilaterally violating the nuclear deal and pursuing maximalist demands, its ability to restore its sanctions leverage will be limited. Even if it could inflict maximum pressure on Tehran, such onerous measures are unlikely to persuade a leadership seemingly convinced that the only thing more dangerous than this threat would be to surrender to it," Vaez said.
"There will be no new negotiations as long as Trump is in office. No Iranian leader will take the political risk of negotiating with an administration that has violated a functioning deal and is outlining the terms of Iran's surrender," Vaez said.
At the same time, the founding director of the Democracy Institute said that Iran would be unwilling to renegotiate the nuclear deal as it is satisfied with the existing terms.
"Substantively I think Iran has no interest in going to the negotiation table with the United States. They realize that from their perspective, they got a deal as good as anyone could have imagined back in 2015. Clearly under this American administration, they are not going to get, from their perspective, a good deal, probably only a bad deal. So there is nothing for them substantively to gain," Basham said.
US Aims to Change Regime in Iran By Withdrawing From Nuclear Deal
The US state secretary named a number of motives for the country’s pursuit of demands, listed in his speech. The aim of a new deal with Iran would be to protect the US people and to undermine the ability of Iran to pursue its current course of foreign policy, forcing Tehran to focus on the domestic affairs with the increased pressure of sanctions, according to Pompeo.
Basham stated that the United States also has a stake in influencing the governance of Iran through its proposed measures.
"The Americans believe that if sanctions hadn't been lifted and if the Iranians’ frozen assets hadn't been unfrozen then the position of the regime, as they view it, in Tehran would be much shakier than it is today… I think that what’s happening domestically in Iran in the long term is the big picture, ulterior motive of the Trump administration and of Secretary of State Pompeo now," Basham said.
"The speech could be summarized as: call us after you surrendered or were toppled," Vaez said.
On July 14, 2015, the P5+1 countries — the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany — and the European Union signed the nuclear agreement with Iran. The agreement requires Tehran to maintain a peaceful nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran has been in full compliance with the terms of the JCPOA as verified in 11 inspection reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On May 8, Trump announced Washington would no longer be party to the 2015 deal. The other parties to the agreement have shown unwillingness to follow the US example and withdraw.
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