A year after the president assured allies that U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement would make the world a safer place, the Iranians appear to have stepped up their nuclear weapons program.
On Monday, the government in Tehran announced it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels.
In response, President Donald J. Trump, who was urged by America’s allies not to walk away from the agreement signed in 2015 by Iran, the U.S. (during former President Barack Obama’s tenure), Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain, ordered the deployment of an additional 1,000 troops to the region.
With tensions now rising in the Middle East – the Trump administration has accused Iran of attacking two tankers near the Persian Gulf – the European Union is urging a nonconfrontation solution.
“We have to do everything to solve the conflict situation with Iran in a peaceful manner,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday. “We will do everything to impress on all sides, but especially to make clear to Iran, that this serious situation mustn’t be aggravated.”
The agreement – Trump last year dismissed it as not worth the paper it’s written on – ensures that Iran’s nuclear program is restricted to civilian uses in exchange for economic assistance.
But the president didn’t stop at just pulling the U.S. out of the pact. He imposed strict economic sanctions on Iran that have crippled the nation’s economy.
The value of Iran’s currency has plummeted by about 60 percent since last year, inflation is up 37 percent, and the cost of food and medicine has soared 40 percent to 60 percent, figures from the European Union reveal.
According to the Associated Press, the Europeans believe the growing economic pressure on President Hassan Rouhani may well have prompted the announcement that Iran will exceed the uranium stockpile limit set by the pact in the next 10 days.
It should be recalled that when President Trump harshly criticized his predecessor, President Obama, for allowing the Iranians to walk all over him, he insisted that his approach would pay huge dividends.
Trump vowed the Iranians would come to U.S. hat in hand begging for a new deal. They haven’t. And therein lies the problem.
Administration officials insist the president isn’t seeking a conflict with Iran and that the military buildup in the Persian Gulf is aimed entirely at deterring the Islamic Republic’s aggression and threats to U.S. interests and international shipping.
However, the presence of 1,000 more troops in the highly volatile Middle East does not bode well for peace.
It should be recalled that last month the Trump administration deployed a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, decades-old B-52 bombers, a Patriot missile battery and an amphibious supply ship to the region. The president said the deployment was in response to threats by Iran.
However, the White House has yet to publicly provide details of the threats. Iran wasn’t impressed with such a show of military force.
“Their billion [dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile,” Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad was quoted by Reuters news service as saying. “If they attempt any move, they will … [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [government] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader.” History has shown that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has a penchant for acting just as impulsively as President Trump.
Given the latest developments, the prospects of an all-out war grow by the day.
European leaders who would be on the frontlines of any conflict between the U.S. and Iran are understandably worried about the spread of violence through the region.
Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, the Europeans are determined to keep supply lines open to the Islamic Republic’s crumbling economy.
The EU has already come up with a complicated barter-type system to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran to get around possible U.S. sanctions.
It’s clear that President Trump miscalculated Iran’s resolve to stand up to the United States. His belief that the government in Tehran would throw in the towel reflects his unrealistic view of the world.
There’s a need to diffuse the situation before things get out of hand.