Iran Daily: Trump Withdraws US From Nuclear Deal

Donald Trump shows the Presidential order imposing extensive US sanctions on Iran, May 8, 2018

UPDATE 1900 GMT: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has spoken with British and French counterparts, and President Hassan Rouhani has been on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron:

According to Rouhani’s office, the President told Macron that Europe has a very limited time to save the nuclear agreement and “must determine and announce its clear, firm stances on its obligations” — thus backing the line set by the Supreme Leader, who earlier said the Islamic Republic can only proceed with European guarantees.


UPDATE 1515 GMT: The new US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenfell, warns his hosts — and gets some advice from German diplomat Wolfgang Ischinger in response:

GRENFELL ISCHINGER

See also Iran’s Options After Trump Withdrawal from Nuclear Deal
Podcast: Iran — Trump Chooses Confrontation & Regime Change: What Happens Now?


UPDATE 1230 GMT: The National Iranian Oil Company has pointed to the importance of the $4.9 billion gas deal with France’s Total as a marker of the European response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

The NIOC said that if Total withdraws from the project in the South Pars gas field, the largest in the world, its stake will be consigned to the Chinese and development will continue.

Total signed the memorandum with Tehran last July but its executives have said implementation is delayed until there was clarity about the future of US sanctions.

Despite the delay, Total has reportedly put $90 million into the project, an investment which would be taken over by Chinese firms.

Iran is seeking $20 billion per year for oil and gas projects, 80% to be provided by foreign entities.


UPDATE 1155 GMT: The Supreme Leader has responded angrily to Donald Trump’s statement.

Khamenei told teachers and university professors:

Last night you heard that the US President made silly and superficial remarks. There were maybe more than 10 lies in his comments. He threatened both the establishment and the nation, saying he will do this and that.

Mr. Trump, I tell you on behalf of the Iranian nation: You are making a damn mistake.

Khamenei ruled out any re-negotiation of the nuclear deal or separate talks on Iran’s ballistic missile program — options already cast aside by the Trump Administration:

We accepted the JCPOA [nuclear deal], but enmities with the Islamic Republic did not end. Now they raise the issue of our presence in the region and the issue of missiles. If we accept them too, they will bring up another issue.

The reason for US opposition to the establishment is that the US used to completely dominate [Iran] but the Revolution cut off their hands.

He said the US was already looking for compliant regimes, but failing to establish this:

You spent money to dominate Iraq and Syria; well you couldn’t, damn it to hell!….

This behavior existed in the era of former Presidents in different forms. The Iranian nation has stood firmly and those ex-presidents have died and their bones are rotten but the Islamic Republic is still there.

But most significant in the Supreme Leader’s address was an apparent warning to the Rouhani Government’s over its effort to maintain the deal, with the political and economic involvement of European signatories.


UPDATE 1145 GMT: The Iranian rial has plummeted to about 70,000:1 v. the US dollar.

The rial was already at a historic low against the dollar, having fallen 40% in recent weeks amid economic problems and fears about the future of the nuclear agreement.

The Government had tried — but failed — to unify the official and free-market rates at 42,000:1. Other measures such as raising interest on savings and arresting unofficial currency dealers also did not check the slide.

See Iran Daily, April 24: Currency Crisis Bites — Rising Prices, Halt to Imports, Warning of Blackouts
Iran Daily, April 20: Supreme Leader Blames Currency Crisis on “Enemy”, Calls for “Intelligence War”


Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he is withdrawing the US from the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany).

The agreement has contained Iran’s nuclear program, with the Islamic Republic giving up its stock of 20% enriched uranium and halting production, sharply limiting its research and development of new nuclear centrifuges, dismantling the core of a reactor that could have produced plutonium, agreeing to extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and making a permanent pledge to not pursue a nuclear weapon.

But Trump — seeking to undo any legacy by his predecessor Barack Obama and choosing advisors who have sought regime change in Iran, over those who saw value in the agreement — said he would not renew the waiver of sweeping Congressional sanctions.

He went even farther by pointing to new American restrictions, seeking not only to cut off any US transactions but to punish foreign companies — particularly those from Europe — who do not end trade and investment projects with Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by repeating his Monday statement that the Islamic Republic will remain in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as long as other countries — a reference to the UK, Germany, and France — do so.

Rouhani’s line presented the choice for the three countries and the European Union in stark terms: not only political adherence to the agreement but also support of the banks and companies whose links are essential to Iran’s economic recovery.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a statement regretting Trump’s decision and pledging to continue the JCPOA. However, they offered no clue on the level of backing they will give their firms who are threatened by US sanctions.

Scott Lucas’s analysis for talkRADIO on Wednesday morning:

Ripping Up Nuclear Containment

Trump presented his decision as fulfilment of a campaign promise, while repeatedly misrepresenting — and even making false statements — about Iran’s nuclear program. He started his presentation by accusing Tehran of further crimes, including support of terrorism and fueling of conflict across the Middle East.

Read transcript

This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.

He claimed that the US’s unilateral departure from an international deal would encourage North Korea to complete an international agreement over its own nuclear program, which includes weapons and long-range missile capability: “Hopefully, a deal will happen, and with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.”

Trump did not further explain this logic. He also did not explain how his Administration will work with Europeans to put further pressure on Iran.

Trump said there is no path to war with Iran, but a “senior administration official” acknowledged that there is “no Plan B” for relations with Tehran.

The 6-Month Timetable for Sanctions

The US Treasury later announced the timing of the imposition of sanctions over the next six months.

After 90 days, restrictions will be in place restricting all financial transactions with Iran; trade in steel, other metals, and software for industrial processes; involvement in automobile production; imports such as carpets and agricultural products; and export of aircraft and parts — effectively killing a deal by Boeing to provide 90 planes to Tehran, one of the high-profile business outcomes of the nuclear deal.

After 180 days, sanctions on ports and shipping, oil and gas, and insurance will be imposed. Foreign companies who have US links and foreign banks will be required to break all ties with Tehran.

With the expansive approach to the economic punishment, Trump went even farther than his new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, widely regarded as an Iran hawk.

On Friday, Pompeo called his counterparts in the UK, France, and Germany to confirm Trump’s plan to withdraw. However, the Secretary of State said he was seeking a two-week reprieve for the US and Europe to continue negotiating, including over a revision of the deal’s clauses and a separate negotiation over Iran’s ballistic missile program. Pompeo favored “soft withdrawal”, holding off on reimposing some sanctions.

On Saturday, the State Department’s chief negotiator, Brian Hook, consulted with European diplomats over the sunset provision, under which the restrictions on Iran’s ability to produce nuclear fuel for civilian use expire after 15 years. The Europeans had already agreed to reimpose sanctions if there were a determination that the Iranians were within 12 months of producing a nuclear weapon.

But officials said this did not satisfy Trump.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

11 COMMENTS

  1. “The agreement has contained Iran’s nuclear program, with the Islamic Republic giving up its stock of 20% enriched uranium and halting production, sharply limiting its research and development of new nuclear centrifuges, dismantling the core of a reactor that could have produced plutonium, agreeing to extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and making a permanent pledge to not pursue a nuclear weapon.”

    That’s just the Obama era spin. The deal also:

    1. Allows Iran to continue enriching uranium to 3.3% with 5,000 centrifuges for 10 years. After 15 years, Iran can enrich to any level (even 90%) with any amount of centrifuges and up to any level of efficiency. President Obama himself stated that in 2028, the “breakout time” for getting weapons-grade uranium would be effectively “zero”: https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-obama-defends-nuclear-deal-1.5348485

    2. The deal does allow Iran to do R&D on limited numbers of its advanced IR-6 andf IR-8 centrifuges, increasingly so after 8 years, and resume work on super-advanced laser enrichment after 10 years.

    3. The Arak reactor will have a new core built by China that will still produce plutonium using heavy water.

    4. The inspections regime allows Iran to “self-inspect” sensitive sites, like military facilities, where Iran is suspected of conducting work on the development of a nuclear warhead.

    5. Allows Iran to keep its mountain-shielded enrichment plant at Fordow which can be used to enrich uranium after 15 years.

    This is shy of the terms of a deal that would verifiably, completely and permanently preclude Iran’s development of a deliverable nuclear weapon. So Trump is right to withdraw.

    • There are a series of distortions and errors in the points you make, but the contribution is appreciated.

    • Much of what you wrote is simply false.
      1. The term “breakout time” is largely meaningless as it assumes the Iranians could produce a deliverable nuclear weapons as soon as they produced enough highly enriched uranium. It does not account for nuclear testing, a delivery system or for that matter, whether they could miniaturize a warhead for such delivery.
      2. Irrelevant. See point 1.
      3. Wrong. The Arak reactor is being redesigned to run on low enriched uranium fuel and will not require heavy water as a moderator. Thus no practical production of plutonium will be possible.
      4. Iran is not Iraq post Desert Storm. It did not attack and invade another country and thus there is no requirement for them to disarm. No agreement that requires military facilities to be inspected would ever be admissible. Furthermore, you cannot develop a nuclear warhead, even inside a military facility, without leaving a massive trail of evidence.
      5. Fordow is open for inspectors 24/7. Fordow was originally a military installation. The reason Iran decided to install an enrichment plant there is because of the non stop threats by Israel and the US to bomb it’s facilities.
      So long as Iran remains within the NPT, it is precluded from developing a deliverable nuclear weapon. One of the main objectives of the NPT was to provide incentives to it’s signatories to abide by it. The JCPOA was working. What Trump’s stupidity has achieved is to undermine the NPT by sending out the message that there are no benefits to remaining within it.

    • A two thirds majority of Iranians support their government retaliating rather than keeping to the terms of the JCPOA in the wake of a US withdrawal.

      Which kind of undermines your earlier argument that Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA was a good idea.

  2. 40% of Iran’s oil and condensate exports bound for Europe: http://www.iran-daily.com/News/211207.html

    “Asian nations accounted for 60 percent of oil and gas condensates purchases from Iran, with China, India, South Korea and Japan being the main customers of Iranian oil in the continent. European customers of Iran’s crude oil were Royal Dutch Shell, Total S.A., Italy’s Eni and Saras SpA., Greece’s Hellenic Petroleum, Spain’s Repsol S.A. and Hungary’s MOL Group.”

    Will these European customers continue to purchase Iranian oil after November when sanctions are enforced? And will Iran be able find new customers in Russia, Latin America, Africa or Asia?

    • Will these European customers continue to purchase Iranian oil after November when sanctions are enforced?

      That remains to be seen. It could be that the EU grows a pair and chooses to fight back against US sanctions.

  3. Trump pulling out the the nuclear deal should nix is nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    Doing so has brought us closer to war, not peace.

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