On Monday, the United States announced that it would not extend sanctions waivers to Iranian oil importers beyond 2 May. US officials said the measure is part of Washington’s strategy to drive Tehran’s petroleum exports to zero.
"The aim… is to cripple Iran economically so that the Iranian people rise up in what could be bloody insurrection, or, failing that, to goad Iran into taking some retaliatory action which would provide the excuse for the US to bomb Iran, a prospect some senior Congressmen and some of [US President Donald] Trump's advisers have slavered over in the past," Ford said on Tuesday.
The dangerous "bone-headed" provocation, the former UK ambassador to Syria continued, would backfire on the United States. Moreover, the tightening of sanctions would fail to achieve the stated purpose of changing Iranian behavior, he added.
Ford observed that Iran has remained compliant on its nuclear obligations under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has reduced its presence in Syria, and is playing only a marginal role in Yemen.
US officials, he added, cannot point to a single atrocity with Iran's hand behind it to support their absurd mantra that Tehran is "the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism."
The former ambassador explained that US-imposed sanctions were having a devastating effect on Iran’s economy with oil exports already down from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to less than 1 million bpd.
Japan, South Korea and other allies, Ford said, will probably "kowtow" to the United States but others will likely push back against US threats.
"China, India and Turkey will probably continue to resist, openly or through stratagems," Ford predicted.
To the extent however that the United States succeeds in applying a stranglehold, the chances of Iran being provoked into closing the Straits of Hormuz or applying pressure via Israel will rise, Ford cautioned.
The United States and the world, Ford added, would do well to remember that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did not come out of the blue but was followed by the imposition of a drastic oil blockade on Japan over its "behavior."
"Actions have consequences," Ford warned.
Russia's Foreign Ministry in a statement on Tuesday said the United States is trying to increase external pressure on Iran using invented claims in order to push regime change in a sovereign state from the outside.
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