U.S. to Iran: You don’t have us over a barrel anymore

U.S. to Iran: You don’t have us over a barrel anymore
(Image: Screen grab of CBC video, YouTube)

Sometimes the bluntest point is the most effective diplomacy.  President Trump doesn’t always nail the blunt policy point in his administration’s rhetoric – sometimes he’s just being blunt on tangential topics for effect – but in the case of the Iran decision announced today, it’s the blunt policy point he’s making.

By withdrawing the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and vowing to reimpose sanctions quickly, Trump is telling Iran: You don’t have us over a barrel anymore.

Trump is rejecting the premise that our only option to avoid war with Iran is a “deal” that leaves Iran in control of every lever that matters to becoming nuclear armed.  He’s rejecting the premise that we have to avoid confronting Iran in her proxy wars abroad, so as not to jeopardize such a “deal.”

By extension, he’s rejecting the premise that we have to refrain from supporting the Iranian people’s own desire for political reform – even regime-change – lest we lose the “deal partners” who agree (if bribed sufficiently) to keep holding us over a barrel and shaking us down.

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Make no mistake, as our old POTUS-in-Chief used to say.  That last sentence describes the 2015 JCPOA with Iran.  We agreed to keep bribing Iran for access to the uranium processing sites Iran is already bound by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to let the UN inspect, and pretended that that access by itself was sufficient to guarantee Iran wouldn’t acquire nuclear weapons.  Since acquiring weapons is about weaponization, and the JCPOA actually weakened our posture on that aspect of development, we ended up in worse shape.  Ballistic missiles flew freely, with no rigorous threat of reimposing sanctions, and the UN had no access at all to facilities involved in warhead development.

Trump has decided not to continue down that counterproductive path. I would actually have been OK with going through a process under the terms of the JCPOA to address its deficiencies and renegotiate.  I think Trump and his team could get a better – no, a real – deal by that method.  Even if they couldn’t, resetting the expectations and changing the momentum on an existing process could have added to our options, without adding to Iran’s.

But the Europeans may well have been too hard to persuade.  And Trump may be right, that that course would give Iran too much hope of continuing to bury us in process and ally-pressure.

Diplomacy fails the most when we lose sight of the blunt points.  Blunt points are simple reality, when the issue is national and international security.  Trump is calling Iran’s bluff here.

And he’s about to prove that Iran’s hand isn’t the high one.  We’ll see what Iran tries in the next few days or weeks.  Whatever it is, there is literally no one else who actually wants Iran to prevail badly enough to sell out to Iran’s initiatives.  Conversely, all the U.S. partners – real or nominal – whom Iran may try to attack in some way are well armed, and will understand that they can count on U.S. support.  The “correlation of forces” is not in Iran’s favor.

It never was.

Here is the White House statement on withdrawing from the JCPOA.

“The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

President Donald J. Trump

PROTECTING AMERICA FROM A BAD DEAL: President Donald J. Trump is terminating the United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.

  • President Trump is terminating United States participation in the JCPOA, as it failed to protect America’s national security interests.
  • The JCPOA enriched the Iranian regime and enabled its malign behavior, while at best delaying its ability to pursue nuclear weapons and allowing it to preserve nuclear research and development.
  • The President has directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA.
  • The re-imposed sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors.
    • Those doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran.
  • Those who fail to wind down such activities with Iran by the end of the period will risk severe consequences.
  • United States withdrawal from the JCPOA will pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities and ensure that Iranian bad acts are no longer rewarded.  As a result, both Iran and its regional proxies will be put on notice.  As importantly, this step will help ensure global funds stop flowing towards illicit terrorist and nuclear activities.

IRAN’S BAD FAITH AND BAD ACTIONS: Iran negotiated the JCPOA in bad faith, and the deal gave the Iranian regime too much in exchange for too little.

  • Intelligence recently released by Israel provides compelling details about Iran’s past secret efforts to develop nuclear weapons, which it lied about for years.
    • The intelligence further demonstrates that the Iranian regime did not come clean about its nuclear weapons activity, and that it entered the JCPOA in bad faith.
  • The JCPOA failed to deal with the threat of Iran’s missile program and did not include a strong enough mechanism for inspections and verification.
  • The JCPOA foolishly gave the Iranian regime a windfall of cash and access to the international financial system for trade and investment.
    • Instead of using the money from the JCPOA to support the Iranian people at home, the regime has instead funded a military buildup and continues to fund its terrorist proxies, such as Hizballah and Hamas.
    • Iran violated the laws and regulations of European countries to counterfeit the currency of its neighbor, Yemen, to support the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force’s destabilizing activities.

ADDRESSING IRANIAN AGGRESSION: President Trump is committed to ensuring Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon and is addressing the threats posed by the regime’s malign activities.           

  • President Trump will work to assemble a broad coalition of nations to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and to counter the totality of the regime’s malign activities.

    • Nations must work together to halt the Iranian regime’s destabilizing drive for regional hegemony.
      • In Syria, the Iranian regime supports the Assad regime and is complicit in Assad’s atrocities against the Syrian people.
      • In Yemen, the regime has escalated the conflict and used the Houthis as a proxy to attack other nations.
      • In Iraq, Iran’s IRGC sponsors Shia militant groups and terrorists.
      • In Lebanon, the Iranian regime enables Hizballah to play a highly destabilizing role and to build an arsenal of weapons that threatens the region.
    • The Administration’s actions are directed against the malign behavior of the Iranian regime, not against the Iranian people, who are the regime’s longest-suffering victims.
  • President Trump is making clear that, in addition to never developing a nuclear weapon, the Iranian regime must:

    • Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others.

    • Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa’ida.

    • End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel.

    • Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

    • Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis.

    • End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel.

    • Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime’s crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens.

    • Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens.

More to follow, we can be sure.  Video:

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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