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Trump’s harsh approach on Iran. Biden firm, but more conciliatory

Trump and Biden propose different paths for taking on Iran and its nuclear ambitions, by Stephen Loiaconi, Saturday, October 10th 2020  WASHINGTON (SBG) — With less than four weeks until Election Day, President Donald Trump is escalating a maximum pressure campaign against Iran that he has claimed will produce swift results if he is reelected, but some experts on the region do not share his confidence.

The White House’s latest actions appear intended to set up a second-term drive to corner the Iranian regime into accepting stiffer restrictions on its nuclear program and other activities or face economic collapse. President Trump’s Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has promised a more conciliatory approach that harkens back to the diplomatic engagement he fostered during the Obama administration.

“The outcome of the American presidential election is existential for the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who previously served on Trump’s National Security Council.

“What the U.S. has now done, it has said essentially, if you are dealing with this Iranian bank, you’re going to be sanctioned and you’re going to have to pay fines,” said Hossein Askari, a professor emeritus of international affairs at George Washington University.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared the new sanctions “cruel, terrorist and inhumane,” according to state media. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Trump administration of trying to “blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine.”……..

experts are skeptical humanitarian transactions can continue unimpeded with Iran’s banks blacklisted. Askari, who has acted as a mediator between Iran and Saudi Arabia and Iran and Kuwait, said he knows people in Iran who have been unable to get medication because of existing sanctions, and he fears the hardships will only get worse.

“The people that are going to suffer are the average Iranians because of what the United States is doing right now,” he said……..

Many countries have experienced economic strains because of coronavirus lockdowns, but the damage to Iran’s economy has been compounded by severe U.S. sanctions. Constraints on oil and other exports have limited the country’s ability to restart economic activity.

“These sanctions have now been building up ever since the Trump administration came to office This is an economy in really critical trouble and it’s also an economy that faces major military and defense expenditures,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former Department of Defense official……….

David Belt, an expert at National Intelligence University, warned in a post for Modern Diplomacy Friday that U.S. sanctions are pushing Iran into a closer relationship with Russia and China. The two countries have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, allowing them to challenge U.S. attempts to step up international pressure on Tehran.

“Necessity is the mother of all invention, and Iran has been forced to look to China and Russia for every national security need to avoid the impact of sanctions…The main rivals of the U.S. are cautiously weighing the costs of an informal economic and security bloc, in part to mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions and other economic pressures on them as well,” Belt wrote.

The direction of U.S. policy toward Iran is one of many issues on the ballot in November. Trump and Biden have drastically different approaches, and experts are divided on which is more likely to produce results and avert a military conflict neither country wants.  ……..

Biden has made clear his top priority for arms control policy is to return to the nuclear deal if Tehran is willing to fall back into compliance with its commitments. He has called for using “hard-nosed diplomacy” to strengthen and extend the agreement while challenging Iran’s destabilizing activities on other fronts.

“We have lost our standing in the region,” Biden said during a primary debate in January. “We have lost the support of our allies. The next president has to be able to pull those folks back together, re-establish our alliances, and insist that Iran go back into the agreement, which I believe with the pressure applied as we put on before we can get done.”……………

October 10, 2020 - Posted by | election USA 2020

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