An article by CNN, citing former US officials and think-tanks, has suggested that US President Donald Trump is using the same “playbook” in the row with Iran as Washington used during the stand-off with North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme. This strategy is said to involve a "maximum pressure" campaign, negotiations after cornering the rival in an exchange of mounting threats, and announcing the consequent release of pressure a “diplomatic win” over these talks.
The US broadcaster cited former official in the Defence Department Van Jackson, who authored "On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the threat of Nuclear War”, saying that the current US president "took a gamble aiming big threats at North Korea, he paid no price for that so far, and so now he thinks he's a good gambler”. He accused him of ignorance, claiming Trump had “no idea that the North Korean nuclear crisis was the closest America came to nuclear war since 1962”, and repeating “many of the same impulsive mistakes that nearly brought catastrophe in 2017”.
MIT professor and nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang has branded Trump’s recent moves as the “Farsi edition” of the “Fire and Fury” epic. The scholar, cited by CNN, warned that it “is dangerous to run the same play on Iran on the mistaken belief that it worked with North Korea, when the evidence is certainly mixed, if not outright contradictory”.
'Iran is Not North Korea'
According to Dr. Thomas Whalen, political analyst and an associate professor of social science at Boston University, other rivalpowers see Trump’s strategy "as a posture rather than substantive diplomatic substance."
"And that’s a real problem for Trump, who has openly disdained US military interventions abroad over the last two decades. There is, in other words, no credibility behind his threats because no one seriously thinks he’ll follow through with concrete action. Just look at North Korea. There was a summit but was any progress made? No, North Korea remains the same nuclear threat to the US and its allies in East Asia," he told Sputnik.
The professor voiced doubt that Iran takes "Trump’s bellicose pose" seriously.
According to him, "this opens the possibility for major military miscalculation in one of the workd’s most volatile regions and the potential for a disastrous war occurring. Iran also is not North Korea and has many allies and supporters including Russia. Besides, a one size fits all approach to international relations is never a good idea for any nation," he concluded.
Twitter Threats and Show of Force in Gulf
Over the weekend, the ongoing tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated when Donald Trump launched a Twitter war of words against Iran, saying "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!"
However, after the sabre-rattling on social media, the US president downplayed his threats against Iran in an interview with Fox News, saying he does not want to go into a war, but just does not “want them to have nuclear weapons”.
"With all of everything that's going on, and I'm not one that believes — you know, I'm not somebody that wants to go into war, because war hurts economies, war kills people most importantly — by far most importantly”, he concluded.
This echoed his 2017 "fire and fury" ultimatum to North Korea.
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen… he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before”, he tweeted then.
It wreaked havoc among experts and diplomats, fearing it could evolve into a war between the two nuclear powers, but eventually resulted in a series of summits between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Iran, who had previously warned Pyongyang about Washington's alleged inability to deliver on its promises due to the Trump administration's exit from the 2015 nuclear deal, has proven to be more resilient. Although the US president recently indicated that talks are possible, his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani has stated that “today is not the time for negotiations at all”, claiming that Washington has requested negotiations with Tehran at least eight times.
The showdown between Iran and the US intensified recently when the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force near Iran in response to what Washington called a potential threat from Tehran.
Iran slammed the moves and partially discontinued its commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions and gave Europe 60 days to ensure Iran's interests are protected under the so-called Iran nuclear deal.
Tensions have been running high between Tehran and Washington since May 2018 when Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement. In less than a year Washington unveiled massive batches of sanctions against the Middle Eastern country, targeting Iran's financial, transport, and military sectors.