As we wait for the President’s public remarks regarding whether the US is going to pull out of the JCPOA, there are already leaks that the President has telegraphed what he is going to do. Specifically that the President has already notified President Macron of France and congressional leaders that the President has made the decision to pull out.
President Trump told President Emmanuel Macron of France on Tuesday morning that he plans to announce the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, according to a person briefed on the conversation.
Mr. Trump’s decision unravels the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, Barack Obama, isolating the United States among its allies and leaving it at even greater odds with its adversaries in dealing with the Iranians.
The United States is preparing to reinstate all sanctions it had waived as part of the nuclear accord — and impose additional economic penalties as well, the person said.
A second person familiar with negotiations to keep the 2015 accord in place said the talks collapsed over Mr. Trump’s insistence that sharp limits be kept on Iran’s nuclear fuel production after 2030. The deal currently lifts those limits.
Senior administration officials also have begun informing congressional leaders of the president’s intent to withdraw, according to a third person familiar with the discussions.
Unfortunately for the President, Iran has a plan.
Rouhani hinted earlier today that if sanctions relief continue they will stay in the nuclear deal with or without the US. https://t.co/3tCXwOtQWI
— Arash Karami (@thekarami) May 7, 2018
From the al-Monitor:
During a speech May 7, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani suggested that if the United States were to exit the comprehensive nuclear deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, European countries could keep the deal alive.
“The people must be certain that we have taken into consideration various possible scenarios in dealing with the United States,” Rouhani said on the possibility of the United States exiting the nuclear deal on May 12. He added, “In this direction, what we want from the nuclear deal is either guaranteed from countries other than America, or if we see what we want out of the nuclear deal is not secured, we will follow our own path and plans.”
Rouhani said what Iran had sought in the nuclear deal was the “removal of oppressions such as sanctions.”
Regardless of what happens with the United States, Rouhani said that this will not be a “long-term” issue. He noted, “If America takes actions against its own commitments, world opinion and countries around the world — with the exception of a few — will know America to be at fault.” He added that this likely action by the United States will not be like previous eras in which the Security Council would support the United States as it had done previously through sanctions and other measures.
Iran’s stated strategy here is to continue to comply with the agreement, keeping it in place with the other signatories – China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany, and the European Union. By doing so Iran intends to isolate the US. As future IAEA reports of compliance are reported, and as Iran maintains the deal with the other signatories to mitigate the reimposition of US sanctions and the imposition of any new ones, Iran will have positioned itself as the good citizen of the global system and the US, under the current President, as the rogue nation.
One of the reasons that Iran is able to do this is because the US officially defines treaties differently than any other nation-state and international law. The US constitution defines a treaty very narrowly. As an agreement between the US and one or more other nation-states and/or non-state actors that is ratified by the US Senate. Every other nation-state and international law define a treaty as any agreement between one or more nation-states and/or non-state actors. From the perspective or Iran and the other signatories, this is a fully articulated treaty properly entered into. As we saw with Senator Cotton’s letter to Ayatullah Uzma Khameini, the US does not. As with everything else over the past forty years or so, treaties and other agreements negotiated by the US have been weaponized by the GOP caucus in the Senate. This is why we still don’t have a ratified Law of the Sea Treaty even though it was primarily negotiated by a Republican administration.
The US withdrawal from the JCPOA, despite the IAEA certifying Iran’s ongoing compliance because the President and his enablers don’t understand the agreement and how it works or because they’d rather go their own way and threaten military attacks and war, is another example of the devolution of the US from a superpower, the diminution of its power and influence within the international system, and the end of the American century. Here America First clearly means America alone. Which makes sense given the President’s longstanding belief that US alliances and partnerships only leave the US weaker because our allies and partners use these alliances and partnerships to rip the US off.
Despite the President’s zero sum, hyperbolic style of negotiation, the Trump Doctrine isn’t in play with the Iranians. They don’t care if the President feels as if he, and by extension the US, is being treated “fairly”. They’re not going to invite him for a summit, roll out the red carpet, and schedule a military review for his edification. They’re also not going to empower someone close to the government to do business with his companies. And they don’t care about the “or else”. The Iranians are not concerned with a reimposition of US sanctions because they’ve decided that if they stay in compliance with the JCPOA that France, Germany, the EU, China, and their strategic partner in the region Russia will not reimpose their own sanctions or go along with reimposed US sanctions. Moreover, because the leadership of our British, French, and German allies personally intervened to ask the President to stay in the JCPOA and he disregarded their entreaties, he has further isolated the US from its traditional allies. Chess was invented in India. Its name is an anglicization of the Persian word shah or king and the Iranians have been playing the game for thousands of years. They know and understand the game better than almost anyone and have maneuvered the pieces on this game board to isolate the American king. Just think of the cost for the President ordering the US withdrawal of the JCPOA as the price required to Make America great again.
Here’s the live feed for the President’s remarks about the JCPOA: