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Trump administration steadily undermining the Iran nuclear deal

The Iran nuclear deal faces ‘death by a thousand cuts’, The Iran Project, Bloomberg,  Ladane Nasseri, 30 June 17 : President Donald Trump decided against killing off the Iran nuclear deal in a day-one spectacular. It may face a lingering death instead.

Trump’s administration sends out mixed signals on many issues, but on the need for a tougher line against Iran, it speaks with one voice. And words have been accompanied by action. In Syria, the U.S. military is directly clashing with Iranian allies. In Saudi Arabia, Trump performed a sword-dance with Iran’s bitterest foes. In the Senate, new sanctions on the Islamic Republic sailed through with near-unanimous approval.

The 2015 accord reined in Iran’s nuclear program, and offered the Islamic Republic a route back to the mainstream of the world economy. It was the fruit of many years of work by many governments. Its breakdown would likely add to turbulence in the Middle East, and impose new strains on America’s ties with Europe. Yet there’s a serious risk that the deal could unravel, according to one former U.S. official who was intimately involved.

“Death by a thousand cuts” is what former Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns fears could be the fate in store for the agreement he helped negotiate. Burns, who led the U.S. team involved in secret preliminary talks, says he’s concerned by “the chipping away of trust in the agreement from all sides.’’

“It’s a fragile enough environment as it is,” he said in an interview. “It’s easy to back yourself into a collision of one kind or another.”

Failed Approach’

The U.S. has slapped two additional sets of sanctions on Iran this year, tied to its ballistic missile program and alleged support of terrorism. The lifting of wider international curbs in January 2016, as part of the nuclear deal, has allowed Iran to resume oil sales to Europe, for example. But many American restrictions remain in place, especially on financial flows. Major banks, wary of falling foul of U.S. policy, have stayed clear of Iran. Several Western companies are watching to see what the administration does next.

The prevailing view in Washington seems to be “to let the agreement remain in place, but to press on Iran so it doesn’t get the commercial advantages expected,” said Alireza Nader, a senior analyst at Rand Corp.

The aerospace industry is a good example. …..

Faced with a congressional requirement to report on the nuclear agreement, the Trump administration grudgingly certified in April that Iran is keeping its end of the deal. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added that the accord only delayed Iran’s ambitions to gain nuclear weapons — “the same failed approach of the past” — and didn’t curb its role in sponsoring terrorism.

‘Blame the Other’

Iran likewise says the U.S. is violating the agreement’s spirit, if not its letter. “Disregard for Iran’s genuine security concerns, either through deliberate changing of the military-security balance in the region, or by stoking Iranophobia in the region and beyond,” would put the hard-won gains of the deal at risk, Ali Akbar Salehi, who helped negotiate it as head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, wrote in a Guardian op-ed last week. “Engagement is not a one-way street.”

“Each side is now waiting to blame the other for undermining the deal,” Nader said….

The mood in Europe is different……

Trump’s coziness with the new Saudi leadership and lack of interest in engaging with Iran adds to evidence that his administration’s strategy “essentially is to try to kill the deal while appearing to uphold it,’’ said Trita Parsi, author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy” and an Iranian-American leader who advocated for the nuclear accord.

“For the long-term durability of the deal you needed to have at least a slightly positive trajectory of U.S.-Iran relations,” Parsi said. “Right now, nothing positive is happening.”


July 1, 2017 - Posted by | Iran, politics international

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