The Iranians say they are getting ready to fight, a reaction to the austerity imposed by new U.S. sanctions that is causing domestic instability. It may be a bluff, but the threats are real.
The head of Iran’s nuclear program said Sunday that his organization “is on the threshold” of a more efficient way to produce enriched nuclear fuel, something Iran promised not to do in the 2015 nuclear freeze agreement with the United States and five other major signatories. Enriched nuclear fuel is a feed stock for nuclear weapons.
On Monday, the Iranian government, through a senior spokesman, rejected a United Nations ban on its missile programs, declaring them a “natural right.”
Over the weekend, Iranian state TV, in a program praising the nation’s missile prowess, showed an animation depicting Iranian missiles striking popular tourist destinations around the world.
Earlier this month the cybersecurity company FireEye reported that a recent hacking campaign targeting internet nodes in the Middle East and North Africa was launched apparently by Iran as preparation for more widespread attacks.
The flurry of threats suggests a dangerous new period in Iran’s relations with the world may be approaching in reaction to President Donald Trump’s decision last year to renounce the nuclear agreement.
But despite the severe economic problems caused by U.S. sanctions, other news suggests that Iran’s leaders will be better off if they moderate their language and actions and continue cooperating with the nuclear pact.
There are two reasons. First, despite his own rhetoric against Iran, President Trump has wisely suspended sanctions on Iranian oil for eight nations — China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Greece and Italy. Iran needs to keep all these customers and that is a constraint on its actions with respect to the nuclear freeze or other disruptive acts.
Second, the European Union is suddenly showing a welcome stiffer backbone against Iranian threats and actions. Last week the EU sanctioned the head of Iran’s intelligence organization and others connected to a series of murders and attempted murders in Europe of Iranian dissidents.
Europe has been slow to announce how it intends to trade with Iran despite U.S. sanctions that apply to European firms. A “special purpose vehicle” has been proposed involving a barter system that bypasses banks that can be sanctioned by the United States. The version currently under discussion appears to be limited to assuring Iranian access to humanitarian goods. It may be launched soon, but the delays suggest some difficulty in negotiations with Iran over the terms and the range of goods to be exchanged.
Iran must be careful to avoid a breach with Europe, which is likely to occur if Iran resumes nuclear enrichment in violation of the nuclear freeze agreement, and possibly if it keeps pursuing destabilizing activities, including missile developments. So, despite its rhetoric, Iran’s options for making trouble for the world remain limited.
But the regime is still dangerous. Iran continues to develop longer-range missiles and stir up trouble in the Middle East, where there is a real war going on between Israel and Iran in Syria and between Iranian-backed rebels and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government in Yemen.
President Trump, in denouncing the nuclear pact, sought to enlist broader support for his policy of resisting Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and elsewhere. Until this month Europe has avoided any dispute with Iran over these activities. If its recent sanctions on Iranian intelligence and its denunciation of missile tests are evidence of a change of mind, Iran’s government will find it even harder to continue its disruptive foreign policy.
Source » thepostandcourier