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France’s Macron Blasts “Very Insane” US Strategy as Trump Mulls Scrapping Iran Nuke Deal

France’s Macron Blasts “Very Insane” US Strategy as Trump Mulls Scrapping Iran Nuke Deal

France’s Macron Blasts “Very Insane” US Strategy as Trump Mulls Scrapping Iran Nuke Deal
April 27
15:51 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump increasingly appears to be pursuing his “gut instinct” on the Iran nuclear deal and is leaning toward withdrawing from the landmark accord, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. The French leader has agreed with Trump that a “new arrangement” must be worked out with Iran, although the two leaders may have different ideas of what form a new deal would take.

Macron arrived in Washington this week in hopes to save the accord, but the three-day visit will likely be remembered for the touchy-feely physical interactions between the two heads of state dubbed “Le Bromance” by the U.S. press – including an abundance of jostling, shoulder-rubbing, kissing, and a bizarre moment when Trump brushed dandruff off the French president’s shoulder, noting, “We have to make him perfect.”

Trump’s awkward ‘bromance’ with Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron’s US state visit has concluded – and we couldn’t help but notice all those super awkward ‘bromance’ moments! We’re sure you saw them too!

Posted by RT Play on Thursday, April 26, 2018

 

The U.S., though, is likely to appear the flakier one if the former reality-television star turns his back on the six-party Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ahead of the May 12 deadline for Washington to renew sanctions relief on Iran, as the deal stipulates.

Trump has repeatedly called the 2015 agreement the “stupidest” deal and among “the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”

Last October, the temperamental president announced a newly hostile strategy toward Iran, including a goal of seeking changes to the JCPOA to curb Iran’s alleged regional ambitions. In January, he warned anxious European Union allies to “fix” the “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12 or risk a U.S. withdrawal.

Under the terms of the JCPOA, Tehran agreed to curb certain nuclear activities in exchange for a lifting of sanctions. The accord was arguably one of few noteworthy foreign policy achievements of the Barack Obama administration, and entailed over a year of painstaking negotiations among Iran, Germany, and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States.

During a joint press conference with Macron, Trump told reporters:

No one knows what I’m going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea … [maybe] it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations, because this is a deal with decayed foundations.”

 

Macron dubs U.S. policy zig-zags “very insane”

Macron urged Trump to use the deal as the cornerstone of an expanded accord with the Islamic Republic that would address various non-nuclear issues of contention with Tehran, including Iran’s so-called “regional meddling,” its backing for close allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Syrian government, and its conventional ballistic missile arsenal.

Yet, as Macron was departing Washington, he told a small group of reporters that it was quite likely Trump would abandon the deal, plainly stating, “That’s my bet … there is a big risk he will leave.”

Macron offered a blistering appraisal of U.S. dithering on key international agreements, including both the JCPOA and the Paris climate accord:

It can work [in] the short term, but it’s very insane [in] the mid- to long-term.”

Macron argued that any scrapping of the deal would send an unmistakable signal of untrustworthiness to North Korea just as the White House readies itself for direct diplomacy with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons deterrent.

The argument was also made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said that the widely-anticipated meeting may lower tensions but that Pyongyang should realize the U.S. is “not a trustworthy, reliable negotiating partner.” In an interview with Associated Press, Zarif said:

They’re prepared to take everything that you’ve given, then renege on the promises that they have made in the deal … That makes the United States a rather unlikely partner in any international agreement.”

The French leader also told reporters that Trump was likely withdrawing from the deal for unspecified “domestic reasons,” adding that he tried to present his arguments with a “kind of rationality [Trump] can respect” and that he “tried to convince … I did my best.” Macron added, “If you just kill the JCPOA, without an option, you’ll just open a Pandora’s box.”

Former advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiating team and analyst Kaveh L. Afrasiabi noted that, despite Macron’s attempts to depict himself as an honest broker, his pitch to expand the deal would likely be seen in Tehran – and in other capitals – as a sign of Paris’ newfound subservience to Washington. He wrote:

[Macron] concedes too much ground to Trump to have even a minimum hope of any tangible results. A more prudent approach by Macron would have been to put his foot down and defend the Iran nuclear deal, as he had on numerous occasions, instead of slipping down the slippery road of turning into a ‘Trump whisperer’ on the deal.

He now risks being labeled as ‘France’s Tony Blair’ and, worse, ‘Trump’s poster boy in Europe” … In a word, Macron’s proposed ‘new nuclear deal’ with Iran is a non-starter and the sooner it is abandoned, the better.”

Discrediting diplomacy, ensuring disaster

U.S. officials were hardly able to offer more clarity on the White House’s policy regarding the deal, with Defense Secretary James Mattis stating Thursday that no decision has yet been made on the deal and that “discussions are ongoing in the national security staff.”

That staff now includes two key Trump advisors and die-hard opponents of Iran and the JCPOA — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton. Bolton, who is frequently described as a “super-hawk” and warmonger, once published an op-ed titled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

Iran, however, publicly insists that it never pursued nuclear weapons – a claim supported by a mid-90s decree by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – and has stated bluntly that if the U.S. drops the deal, it will immediately restart its nuclear energy program.

As MintPress News has reported, much of the hue and cry regarding “Iranian nukes” is a direct result of concerted efforts by the U.S. Israeli lobby, AIPAC; the “liberal” JStreetPAC; and others — who generously fund the campaign efforts of U.S. lawmakers. The payola — which, in the case of right-wing Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton, amounted to $900,000 — directly translates into anti-Iran draft legislation and soundbite-sized talking points meant to drum up Iranophobia among otherwise unconcerned U.S. media consumers.

Leaked spy cables, from none other than the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad itself, have contradicted loud claims by Tel Aviv that Iran’s peaceful energy program aims to eventually cross the threshold of developing nuclear arms, while the CIA also concedes that Iran hadn’t been “performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.” State Secretary Pompeo himself confirmed to the Senate that Tehran hadn’t been “racing to a weapon before the deal” and is unlikely to do so if the deal is scrapped.

Iran continues to remain on-message, due in no small part to the discrediting of anti-Iran hawks’ accusations. On Monday, Zarif said that the JCPOA “has been written on the basis of distrust” from the start, and that even had Hillary Clinton been elected in Trump’s place, the White House bottom line would largely be similar in terms of abiding by the deal – although it likely wouldn’t have spewed such visceral opposition to the deal.

The belligerent and saber-rattling turn in U.S. policy has pleased anti-Iranian U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, but has alarmed many other countries, traditional rival and ally alike.

Earlier this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi both stated that they opposed the revision of the deal, which they consider to be a “counterproductive” move that would undermine years of effort.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov underscored Moscow’s stance Monday, noting:

Russia unwaveringly calls for keeping the so-called Iran deal viable. We believe that it has no alternative and should be honored by all parties.”

Other European countries have also appealed to Washington not to abandon the deal. European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini insisted Wednesday that “there is one deal existing; it’s working, it needs to be preserved,” and that it remains “essential for European security.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will likely echo the appeal on Friday during her own visit to Washington, where she will make a last-ditch bid to rescue the JCPOA.

Last week, around 500 members of parliament from Britain, France and Germany wrote an open letter to the U.S. Congress urging lawmakers to save the deal or risk damaging “the transatlantic partnership [NATO] as a reliable and credible driving force of world politics.” Any U.S. withdrawal from the deal would cause major harm to the allies’ “credibility as international partners in negotiation, and more generally, to diplomacy as a tool to achieve peace and ensure security.”

“Abandoning the deal would diminish the value of any promises or threats made by our countries,” the MPs added.

Iran, long used to the sabre-rattling threats of the West and bad-faith diplomacy in general, is taking the threats in stride. Zarif said:

If the United States were to withdraw from the nuclear deal, the immediate consequence in all likelihood would be that Iran would reciprocate and withdraw … There won’t be any deal for Iran to stay in.”

Top Photo | Demonstrators against the G20 Summit stand on stage wearing masks depicting from left: British Prime Minister Theresa May, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, in Hamburg, Germany, July 2, 2017. (Axel Heimken/AP)

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

The post France’s Macron Blasts “Very Insane” US Strategy as Trump Mulls Scrapping Iran Nuke Deal appeared first on MintPress News.

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Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

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