By Mike Whitney and cross-posted from Counterpunch.org
The Trump administration has settled on a plan for sabotaging the Iranian Nuclear deal that does not explicitly violate the terms of the agreement. Trump will continue to suspend sanctions, as is required under the terms of the deal, but at the same time, he will warn that if the agreement isn’t changed to meet his specific demands, he will terminate it unilaterally.
“If at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately,” Trump said.
We can expect Trump to continue to issue these same threats in the months ahead as it helps to maximize the uncertainty as to whether the agreement will survive or not. As a businessman and investor, Trump knows that uncertainly is nearly as effective as sanctions when it comes to dampening foreign investment in the country’s businesses and resource development. Corporations and private investors are not going to commit significant capital to long-term projects if they think that the rug could be pulled out from under them at any time. They need certainty just like they need security. By renewing his threat to withdraw from the deal every 120 days, Trump hopes to negate any benefits that Iran might enjoy by complying with the terms of the nuclear deal. The sanctions will have been lifted, but the impact of Trump’s meddling will stifle foreign investment preventing the strong economic rebound that Iranian leaders had anticipated.
Trump also announced that the United States will impose new sanctions on “14 individuals and entities” over alleged human rights abuses to anti-government protestors during the recent demonstrations which took place in cities across Iran. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has denounced the sanctions as a clear violation of the nuclear agreement which forbids any changes to the terms of the deal. Here’s part of the FM’s statement:
“The Islamic Republic of Iran stresses clearly that it will take no measures beyond its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and will accept no changes to this agreement now or in the future and will not allow that the JCPOA be linked to any other issue.”
Taken together, the Trump strategy is a clever two-pronged approach that shrinks capital investment in the country (thereby strangling the economy) while increasing the incitements that are intended to cause the government to overreact and (possibly) scuttle the agreement. Trump’s goal is to trick Iran into terminating the deal because it would be too costly for the US to end its commitment unilaterally…