Dr. Majid Mohammad Sharifi, in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, stated that the US State Department has been implementing a plan to extend Iran’s arms embargo for a year, noting that the Trump administration with the sanctions it has imposed on Iran has deprived it of all the economic interests of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and in the current situation, it wants to prevent JCPOA from having a security benefit for Iran.
Asked if the US government was really concerned about the end of this arms embargo and imagines there would be a major development in the military sector that would change the balance of power, he said: “Many Trump critics believe there will be nothing unusual and for the same reason they do not show sensitivity to this issue; But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Trump team are very focused on this issue.
US Efforts to Present UNSC Resolution in May
“They have a two-step plan to first submit a resolution to the UN Security Council to extend Iran’s arms embargo in May, with Estonia, a US ally taking over the presidency of the Security Council. They say they have given the draft to other countries. The plan imposes more restrictions on Iran, and it is said that it will make Iran’s arms embargo much longer and even unlimited over time, and may introduce new weapons into the sanctions or provide a realistic mechanism for verification of the sanctions.”
Mohammad Sharifi said the content of the resolution is such that Russia and China would veto it, adding that some believed that the Americans were not essentially seeking an arms embargo and were pursuing another goal. For this second purpose, the Americans are arguing that if the arms embargo scheme is rejected at the Security Council, they will activate the “trigger mechanism.”
Trump Supporters Trying to Create Powerful Leverage against Iran
He noted that the Trump team, especially its hardline supporters at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, are considering whether Trump will win the 2020 election or not. If Trump wins, Iran will have to negotiate with the United States based on Pompeo’s 12-point conditions, and if Biden is elected, there will be no JCPOA for Washington to rejoin. Therefore, he must reach a new agreement with Iran. Trump supporters say we need to create a strong leverage that we can even pass to Biden.
“Even Jake Sullivan, and advisor of the Democrats commented on this issue. Walter Russell Mead, wrote in a report in the Wall Street Journal that “Biden would not be the second Obama.”
While analyzing Biden’s foreign policy, the analyst said the climate change accord in Paris, the Asia-Pacific Agreement and Iran’s nuclear deal are three very important accords in US foreign policy, and if Biden is elected, America will rejoin the Paris Agreement, but there are doubts about the other two deals. Even if the JCPOA survives the US will not accept it in the same way as before, and it will seek to cover up the nuclear deal’s weaknesses.
Mohammad Sharifi added: “Jake Sullivan, who is a full critic of Trump, believes that they did not think that Trump’s sanctions would have such an impact and that they were skeptical. But we see its effects clearly. If Biden is elected he will certainly use this pressure lever (against Iran), and he will certainly put a lot of preconditions if he is going to reach an agreement. At the same time, Biden will have a trump card as the support of European states.
Iran Should Not Let Taboos Break without a Price
“They believe that what Trump did was to break all the taboos that existed so far in relation to Iran without any harm being done to the United States,” he said, referring to reports released on Iran by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The last taboo is about the JCPOA and if that happens too and they don’t see a reaction from Iran, Biden will conclude why he should go back to 2015, but strike a deal with due regard to the status quo.
The international affairs expert stated that the Trump administration is setting the stage for the next government: “If we look at things realistically, this action by the United States will make things very difficult for us. We must not allow these taboos to be broken easily and free of charge for Americans and Europeans. All the restrictions they impose will continue on the part of the next government if there is no cost; therefore, it is necessary to take decisive action against them, to fully explain to them the logic that their actions will not be without a price, otherwise the choice of Biden will be more dangerous for us.
US & EU Leaders’ Perceptions towards Iran Must Change
“At least the Americans have come to the conclusion that what Iran has done so far has not been enough,” he said. Reports from Trump supporters about the US policy assessment two years after pulling out of the JCPOA suggest that what we have done has proved an important point to us, namely, contrary to expert opinions, none of the declared threats were realized.
Mohammad Sharifi said that there are two outlooks in the United States regarding Iran and that the measures taken are a result of the convergence of these two outlooks and they are getting results. “One view is to make Iran committed to the existing system of international relations based on expanding relations and agreement to cooperate with us; the same policy the Obama administration implemented. But with Trump in office, his supporters have questioned all of these assumptions to apply more pressure on Iran, and now they are seeking to continue the arms embargo, being convinced that this policy has worked well. They believe that they would not give concessions to Iran, and unfortunately, with the developments that have taken place in the last two years, this understanding is taking root in the United States. He stressed: “We must change this understanding during the time left to the presidential race in the United States.”
Regarding the steps that Iran should take in this regard, the university professor said: “On numerous occasions, the decisions and actions of countries in the field of foreign policy are based on their perceptions of reality and not reality itself. The Americans either induce such a perception or in fact have such an idea. It is necessary to change this perception and get it back to 2015, which was created for Obama. The former US president said “ you would like to treat Iran the way your heart desires but I accept Iran as it is.”
“If we could create an option in which Iran eliminated every single nut and bolt of their nuclear program, and foreswore the possibility of ever having a nuclear program, and, for that matter, got rid of all its military capabilities, I would take it,” Obama said. But that particular option is not available.” Mohammad Sharifi said they should have the impression that they cannot harm Iran.
Necessary Measures against US until Elections
Mohammad Sharifi said that the Americans’ perception of the outcome of the pressure on Iran did not mean that this goal could be achieved in the real world, and that many believe that the US policy of maximum pressure on Iran had failed.
Until the election, action can be taken in several fronts; For example, in the diplomatic dimension, we should consider that European countries do not cooperate much with the Trump administration and are not satisfied with at least being with him.
He explained: “It is true that the Europeans cannot really do anything against the United States, but they are very concerned about the consequences of the pressures on Iran and are trying to prolong it in this way and lead to the 2020 elections. Russia and China also have certain positions and will not cooperate with the United States unless they are under a lot of pressure. In this opportunity, a few months before the 2020 elections, our diplomatic apparatus will be able to act on the one hand against European countries, and on the other hand against Russia and China, and inform them of the consequences of Trump’s actions against the Islamic Republic.”
Need for Consultation with Regional States
Stressing that Iran should tell these countries that these actions could have unintended consequences and cause a crisis in the region, the professor of international relations continued: “This issue has been neglected to such an extent that the role of the countries in the region must be taken into account. The plan, which Pompeo intends to bring to the Security Council, has even called on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to request an extension of Iran’s arms embargo.
He added: “It is necessary to inform the countries of the region that if this action is taken, it may have unintended, unfortunate and serious consequences for them. Experience has shown that countries in the region, especially in a country like the United Arab Emirates, change stance very quickly with a sense of danger and sit for negotiations.
Mohammad Sharifi called attention to the capacity and role of Iran’s regional powers, especially groups, institutions and organizations that are close to Iran, in this important direction and said: “Incidentally, the biggest concern that Americans and European countries raise is due to the existence of these groups. . They could go through a process that would inspire a reaction if they wanted to deprive Iran of all the concessions that exist, which could jeopardize the interests and strengths of European and regional countries.
The international affairs analyst said that Iran’s position that if our oil was not to be sold through the Strait of Hormuz, we would not allow any oil to pass through the waterway would be reasonable, adding: If we are going to be deprived of everything and the trigger mechanism will be activated, the opposing parties will not be able to benefit from the JCPOA benefits, we may not even fulfill our obligations to the IAEA, cancel the inspections and quit the NPT.
Mohammad Sharifi said that the Americans were very concerned about the impression that the pressures were effective. “We have to do a lot of propaganda work to show that despite the pressure, they have not been able to achieve their goal and Iran has the ability to Resist.”
At the same time, he stressed: “It must be shown that whoever comes to power in the United States, we will continue and adhere to the same policy that we have.”