Iran has highly concerned about the fate of the Nuclear Deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), under this new administration. It is also clearly concerning to the US, based on recent remarks made by senior American figures.
According to Senator Tom Cotton, a fierce critic of the JCPOA, the new President “is going to be much more forceful on the terms of the nuclear deal itself, and that itself may cause the ayatollahs to walk away, but I also know that he intends to confront…Iranian regional aggression, and their imperial project around the Middle East.”
US Army general and former CIA director David Petraeus, told the new administration to never rule out the possibility of military action. “The US must prepare for action against Iran, if necessary,” he said at a recent security conference. “I told Trump we need to repeat what we want, for Iran not to have nuclear weapons and for the Islamic Republic to stop striving for a Shiite hegemony in the region. If you ask the Gulf States, their first problem is Iran, and only afterwards comes ISIS, Yemen…”
Although senior Iranian regime officials have threatened to “burn” the JCPOA if the new administration decides to tear it up, as Trump threatened to do during his campaign, one principle should be kept in mind, writes Alavi, “Iran needs the deal to remain intact more than any other party. Thus, the mullahs’ macho rhetoric is meant for domestic use only, in order to maintain a straight face.”
In a recent Asharq Al-Awsat interview, Petraeus said, “Iran must accept a JCPOA revision. Otherwise, the US will be forced to adopt other methods to protect regional countries.”
Responding to such remarks, as well as the new administration’s announcement to launch new missiles systems in the Middle East, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, along with with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, expressed his support at a joint press conference. Trump has “spoken about containing Iran and its ability to cause mischief, and making sure Iran abides by the agreement,” Jubeir said, adding, “This is exactly our position.”
Signs point to President Trump strengthening the JCPOA provisions and strictly enforcing these measures. As a result, cheating on the margins, as Iran did under the appeasement policies of the Obama administration, will become much more difficult.
Alavi writes, “If the US administration penalized the mullahs in this realm in the coming months — by, for example, encouraging activities aimed at isolating Tehran — it will send a very strong message to the regime not used to such stark measures, and leave a lasting and meaningful impact on the establishment’s overall economic fortunes.” He adds, “To this end, Washington shouldn’t be the least concerned about any recent saber-rattling from Tehran regime officials, as it is merely a sign of Iran’s fear about trekking into uncharted Trump territory.”
Nearly two dozen former senior American officials, many with close ties to the new president, signed a hand-delivered letter that urged the White House to work with the main Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), who’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, is a Muslim woman who advocates a peaceful, progressive and tolerant interpretation of Islam. The NCRI is a conglomerate of Iranian dissident groups, including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“All this and the new administration is just getting warmed up,” concludes Alavi.