By Yuram Abdullah Weiler

The U.S. and the JCPOA: Carrot-and-stick diplomacy without the carrot

July 14, 2019

“Trump was in violation of the deal well before he withdrew from it.” —Fred Kaplan

Led by an unprincipled president who has shown himself to be an arrogant abrogator of agreements, a duplicitous demolisher of deals, and a tyrannical trasher of treaties, the United States appears well on its way towards setting a new world record in behavior as a rogue state. After first violating the terms of the so-called Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), withdrawing from it, forcing other nations to eschew their obligations under it, and lately resorting to acts of sabotage and piracy on the high seas, the Washington regime remains unrepentant and undeterred in its criminal actions. 

The U.S. has long been committing diplomatic injustices.  The rate merely intensified after the demise of the Soviet Union, which had acted as a formidable restraining force on the imperialistic imaginations of the predatory politicos on the Potomac, who are addicted to ousting any legitimate government they find not to their liking.  In recent times, Albania (1991), Yugoslavia (1999-2000), Ecuador (2000), Afghanistan (2001), Venezuela (2002), Iraq (2003), Haiti (2004), Honduras (2009), Libya (2011) and Ukraine (2014) have all had their sovereignty breached and legitimate governments toppled by the Washington regime, while Iraq (1991),  Somalia (1993, 2007 to present) and Syria (2012 - present) have suffered attempted coups d'état.  The U.S. was likely behind the attempt in Turkey in 2016, too.

Iran has been completely transparent about its actions in response to U.S. violations of the JCPOA, in which Iran made clear to the U.S. and other signatories that it would “treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”If these nefarious activities were not enough to enrage the community of civilized nations, the U.S. has all but handed the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Al Quds (Jerusalem) to the Zionist entity along with the Syrian Golan Heights, attempted to orchestrate another coup d'état in Venezuela and re-imposed economic sanctions on Cuba.  The current regime in Washington has so many economic sanctions in force that it is incapable of listing what countries specifically are targeted.  With some 6,300 persons on the U.S. treasury department’s “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons” (SDN) list and 30 active sanctions programs, it seems clear that Washington is intent upon acting as the financial dictator of the world.

Coercive economic sanctions, however, may not in themselves be against international law provided the unilateral sanction is a countermeasure deployed by a state as a defensive response to an initial wrong committed by another state, and that the sanctioning ends upon the erring party’s return to compliance with international law.  Unilateral economic sanctions, such as those imposed by the United States on Iran, are clearly in violation of international law, since Iran was in compliance with the JCPOA, which is itself part of the body of international law as an international convention under  article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  

Furthermore, by withdrawing from the JCPOA, the U.S. stands in violation of Article 25 of the United Nations Charter, which states, “The Members of the United Nations agree to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council in accordance with the present Charter.”  Additionally, the UN Security Council itself must act in accordance with the UN Charter, Article 24(2).  In other words, the U.S., as a member of the Security Council is legally bound by Article 25 of the UN Charter to carry out the provisions of the JCPOA under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 without exception.

Among the provisions of the JCPOA was to be “the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme, including steps on access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy.” By coercing other countries not to trade with Iran, the U.S. was in violation of the terms of the JCPOA even before it was shredded by Trump in May of 2018.  The coercive sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran inhibit the sale of the latter’s excess 3.67% enriched uranium, thereby not only violating the terms of the JCPOA, which permits the sale of excess quantities “based on international prices,” but also forcing accumulation in excess of the 300 kilogram limit.

The fact that the U.S. has imposed coercive economic sanctions on Iran also contravenes Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” such as is the case with Iran.  Therefore, by withdrawing from the agreement and refusing to carry out its provisions, and continuously holding out the possible use of military force against the Islamic Republic, the current U.S. leader has put his country in blatant and unambiguous contravention of international law.  Finally, the Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) has suggested that unilateral coercive sanctions, such as those imposed on Iran by the U.S. without UN Security Council authority, violate international law.

Moreover, Iran has been completely transparent about its actions in response to U.S. violations of the JCPOA, in which Iran made clear to the U.S. and other signatories that it would “treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.”  Re-imposing sanctions is precisely what the U.S. has done, allowing Iran to exercise its right under the JCPOA —and hence, under international law—to cease performing its commitments.  Washington is the transgressor here, not Tehran.

So how can the U.S. be such a flagrant flouter of international law and not be held accountable?  On the surface, the answer seems straightforward. Firstly, America has perhaps the largest and best-equipped armed forces in the world, which only a handful of countries have the military capability to confront.  Secondly, the U.S. still represents one of the largest economic markets in the world, the access to which few nations are anxious to forego.  Hence, it’s no surprise that most nations are unwilling to confront this American goliath, with its intimidating armed forces and lucrative economic markets, much less attempting to bring it to justice for its crimes.  

At a deeper level, due to the lack of a centralized body for enforcement or a judiciary whose rulings are compulsory upon all state actors, international law can effectively be bypassed or even ignored by the arrogant powers and their vassal states.  This lack of enforceability results in ideal conditions for haughty nations to engage in a theory of international relations that, at best, could be termed a carrot-and-stick approach, or specifically to those states deemed to be “rogue” or “hostile” to its geopolitical interests, a stick-without-carrot approach. In simpler terms, such a state actor would be engaging in what was once called gunboat diplomacy. The latter seems to be the perennial tactic employed by the U.S. with respect to Iran since the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

The full re-imposition of illegal and coercive U.S. unilateral sanctions, which the economic terrorist arm of the Washington regime proudly boasts are “a campaign of maximum financial pressure...” targeting “more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels,” occurred on November 5, 2018.  It is ironic that a U.S. guide on humanitarian assistance and related exports to Iran begins with the statement: “As the Government of Iran continues to ignore its international obligations,” while it is the U.S. that is ignoring its international obligations under the JCPOA. Still, the booklet’s authors insist that “these sanctions do not prohibit the delivery of humanitarian assistance and exports of humanitarian goods to Iran.”  This was proven to be a lie during the spring floods in Iran, which affected hundreds of thousands of Iranians when U.S. sanctions impeded relief efforts.

American gunboat diplomacy of old has evolved into a sophisticated set of strategies including threats, tariffs, economic sanctions, cyber warfare, clandestine operations and proxy wars.  Nevertheless, the 19th-century imperialistic mindset still prevails in the U.S. approach to 21st-century international relations.  Unless it changes its ways, Washington is on course for a collision with the Islamic Republic of Iran that will undoubtedly make the U.S. war on Iraq look like the cakewalk predicted by Kenneth Adelman in 2002.

YAW/YAW



 

Leave a Comment

2 + 3 =