Trump seeks to solidify electoral base by renewing arms embargo on Iran: American scholar

June 14, 2020 - 20:30

TEHRAN - John Calabrese, a professor at American University in Washington and a scholar at the Middle East Institute, has said that U.S. President Donald Trump seeks to solidify electoral base by renewal of an arms embargo on Iran.

“Putting the arms embargo renewal and snapback sanctions issues in this context, these maneuvers strike me as being fundamentally about solidifying the ‘electoral base’,” Calabrese told IRNA in an interview published on Sunday.

He said, “Note that over the past few weeks, President Trump has taken the side of law enforcement officers, brandished a Bible in front of an historic Church that had been damaged in protests, and called for accelerating the confirmation of conservative judges.”

Calabrese said Trump also took some other decisions in line with reelection bid.

“On the foreign policy front, Trump announced the imminent withdrawal of nearly 10,000 American troops from Germany and abrogation of its commitment to the Open Skies Agreement. Then, of course, there are renewed sanctions threats against China for its policies in Hong Kong, toward Taiwan, etc.,” Calabrese explained.

Calabrese noted, “Circling back to Iran, against the backdrop of these initiatives, perhaps the outcome is not as important as the ‘performative’ value in domestic political terms. If the administration’s coercive approach succeeds, it can proclaim ‘victory’.”

He also said that if such an approach fail, the administration can claim that it tried but was undermined by perfidious strategic rivals and limp, feckless allies.

Elsewhere, he said that Trump signed a presidential memorandum titled, “Ceasing U.S. Participation in the JCPOA and Taking Additional Action to Counter Iran’s Malign Influence and Deny Iran All Paths to a Nuclear Weapon” in May 2018 which constituted the U.S. “official withdrawal” from the JCPOA and paved the way for reimposing unilateral sanctions and putting pressure on others to follow suit.

About a month ago, U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo reportedly decided to have his staff prepare a legal document arguing that the U.S. remains a “participant state” in the nuclear deal, he said.

“It appears to me that the Trump administration is going through these contortions for two reasons: 1) as a means of renewing the arms embargo on Iran and 2) as a domestic political ploy to demonstrate to a portion of its constituency that it is ‘delivering’ on past pledges,” he said.

He continued, “Regarding the first point, renewing the embargo, the Trump administration seems to be preparing the ‘participant state’ argument as an instrument to gain other Security Council members to follow its lead. If they don't, then the threat is that the U.S. could and would have the right to insist upon ‘snapback sanctions’.”

However, he predicted that Russia and China will obstruct the U.S. attempt.

“In any case, under the JCPOA, the U.S. would have to demonstrate that ‘snapback sanctions’ were warranted. To my knowledge, there is no concrete evidence that Iran is non-compliant. So, it is hard to see how Washington could advance its claim and gain support for it,” Calabrese pointed out.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft have said that extending a permanent arms embargo against Iran is now a top priority for Washington.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran expects permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, especially friendly countries of Russia and China, to stand against the U.S. plots.

Rouhani noted that arms embargo on Iran will expire in October based on the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 which endorses the 2015 nuclear deal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the Trump administration on June 8 of unleashing a politically motivated campaign against Iran and he called for “universal condemnation” of the U.S. attempt to get the UN Security Council to impose a permanent arms embargo.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has slammed the U.S. threats to reimpose arms embargo on Iran, saying it violates Resolution 2231.

Wang urged the U.S. to stop its unilateral sanctions, return to the correct track of observing the Iran nuclear deal and UNSC resolutions, work with all parties to maintain the international nuclear non-proliferation system, and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, CGTN reported on Thursday.


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