Trump, Iran and the nuclear options

Submitted by AWL on 11 October, 2017 - 9:13

Morad Shirin of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxist Tendency spoke to Solidarity.


Under the Iran Nuclear Review Act, the White House has to certify the agreement every 90 days. He’s done it twice so far but he is saying he may not do it this time. As far as anybody else is concerned — because it’s not a bilateral agreement — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, plus the EU, has been voted on by the Security Council, and is part of international law.

The IAA says that Iran is complying with the technical side of the deal. Trump wants to get more out of the deal; they want to get Iran to stop supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon, to stop intervening in Syria, Yemen and so on. If Trump doesn’t certify complying with it, that gives the US Congress 60 days to do something about it. That will be mainly in the Senate where the Republicans have a majority. They won’t ditch it totally as that will involve bigger problems. What they’ll do is try to tie some things up to put pressure on the regime.

Iran has signed a $4.8 billion gas deal with France to develop South Fars gas field; this is alongside all the Airbus deals and so on. Iran and Britain would like to expand relations as Brexit happens. No-one is looking to ditch the deal. They might cite other things, like developing ballistic missiles, supporting terrorism, to add more conditions to the deal. It is possible that Trump will have a change of personnel. Tillerson has been criticised for failing to come up with any evidence that the regime is not complying with the deal.

Sanctions were choking off oil exports in Iran. Since sanctions were lifted, oil exports have been doubled. This has allowed other foreign companies from around the world, especially France and even the USA, to make deals, to look at investing in Iran. It has saved the regime from collapse. Economically, the sanctions made the situation much worse and there was a long recession. But the working class has yet to make any big gains. Standards of living have got worse.

There have been lots of strikes over the last year and a half, across many areas. The regime has not been able to address the basic problems that not only workers but also ordinary people face. The deal has raised expectations but hasn’t delivered in the way that it should. The deal allows the regime to throw its weight around more in the region. Now that Trump is talking about not recertifying the deal, this situation has allowed different wings of the regime to unite around a national interest — the Pasdaran, Khomeini, Rohani and the so-called “moderates”. It is likely that Trump will say that the Pasdaran, or a part of the Pasdaran, are a terrorist organisation and there will be certain targeted sanctions against them.

If the sanctions “snap back”, it will take 60 days, so effects will take a while and it’s unlikely that they’ll be fully reinstated anyway. But it seems possible that the USA might impose additional sanctions to punish the regime for its interventions elsewhere in the region. The regime would use any renewed sanctions as a pretext for a lot of nationalist rhetoric, cracking down on workers, minorities, Kurds and so on.