New US Sanctions A Blow to Iran Nuclear Deal’s Spirit: UK Pundit
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A senior political analyst based in London slammed the US hostility toward Iran and said the new congressional sanctions would deal “a blow” to the July 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“The spirit of the Iran nuclear deal framework has most certainly received a blow as a result of Washington's new sanctions on Tehran,” Marcus Papadopoulos said in an interview with the Tasnim News Agency.
Papadopoulos is an expert on Russia and the publisher and editor of Politics First, a non-partisan publication for the UK Parliament. He earned his MA in Modern History and his Ph.D. in Russian history from Royal Holloway, University of London. His comments and interviews have appeared in various news outlets, including RT, Al Jazeera, Rossiya 24, TASS and RIA Novosti.
The following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: As you know, the US House of Representatives and then the Senate recently passed a sweeping package of bills on sanctions against Iran, Russia, and North Korea. The US legislation would impose mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran's ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. Many have described the new legislation as another breach of the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) while some others believe the US move has even violated the text of the nuclear deal. What is your assessment of the move and in your opinion, what would it signal to the world’s public opinion on the US commitment to the international and multilateral agreements?
Papadopoulos: The spirit of the Iran nuclear deal framework has most certainly received a blow as a result of Washington's new sanctions on Tehran. Back in 2015, there was a glimmer of hope that relations between America and Iran could start to improve, albeit at a sluggish pace, though I was under no illusion then that all it would take to dampen this hope would be the coming to power of a new US president who is very hostile towards Iran and who is very supportive of Saudi Arabia and Israel. Enter Donald Trump! Sadly, Iran will have to be even more vigilant over its national security because President Trump is, I would argue, the most inherently antagonistic American leader that the Islamic Republic of Iran has faced in its history (he is certainly equal to Ronald Reagan in his loathing of Iran). Mr. Trump is favorably disposed to seeing the overthrow of the Iranian government and he does not have any moral qualms about the use of direct US military force to do so. I believe that one of the constraints on Mr. Trump in waging a military campaign against Iran is the realization of his generals that not only do the Iranians have a large and powerful military but also Iran, if attacked, would, undoubtedly, strike Saudi Arabia as the latter would more than likely join the Americans in an attack on Iran. Furthermore, another constraint is Washington's awareness that the Iranian government enjoys broad support amongst the Iranian population and especially when it comes to confronting the American threat to Iran.
Tasnim: US President Donald Trump recently repeated his claims on Iran, saying, “We face new threats from rogue regimes like Iran...” US Defense Secretary Mattis has also recently accused the Islamic Republic of sponsoring terrorism and called for regime change in the country. The suggestion of regime change is not the first by a Donald Trump administration official. In June, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that the US would support those wanting to bring about regime change in Iran. In your opinion, what are the reasons behind such hostile remarks by the new US administration?
Papadopoulos: If Iran was poor and in an obscure part of the world, then America would not care in the slightest about the country. But it is the fact that Iran is a prosperous country, with an abundance of natural resources, especially oil and gas, and is in the Middle East that puts it firmly on Washington's radar. There are two countries residing in the Middle East which stand in the way of complete American dominance in the region and these are Iran and Syria. That accounts for why Washington is supporting terrorist groups in Syria who are trying to topple the Syrian Government, and it explains why Washington is constantly on the lookout for an opportunity to overthrow the Iranian Government.
Tasnim: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly slammed the nuclear deal between Tehran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, US, Britain, France, and Germany) as “horrible”, pledging to “tear up” the accord if elected. Do you think that these recent regime change comments by the White House officials have their roots in Trump’s failure to terminate the deal or you think that some regional developments are behind the remarks?
Papadopoulos: For the time being, the Iran nuclear deal framework is safe, not least because of the monumental crisis currently engulfing President Trump and his administration. However, the objective of Washington to depose the Iranian Government remains alive and well - and this is the case irrespective of who sits in the White House. But it clear that with Russian and Iranian influence in the Middle East on the rise, there is a sense of urgency now amongst American policymakers to try and beat back the gains which Moscow and Tehran have made. Coupled with that is President Trump's extremely close relationship with the Saudis and Israelis, which constitutes another reason for his despising of Iran. Regardless of whether America is run by a Republican or a Democrat, the country's mindset will always remain the same. America first, as its current leader openly and proudly proclaims.
Tasnim: Given the close ties between the Saudi regime and the new US administration and the oil-rich kingdom’s hostile policies against Iran, in your opinion, what role has the Saudi Lobby played in Washington’s recent regime change rhetoric?
Papadopoulos: The Saudi lobby is one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. And some commentators question whether the Saudis are in the pockets of the Americans or vice versa. I believe the answer to that question is the former. But, Riyadh has immense leverage in its relations with Washington as a result of its oil reserves and the revenue its receives through its sales of this natural resource. On top of that is how the Saudis have their man in the White House - Mr. Trump. The American president has, just months into his presidency, signed contracts with the Saudis worth hundreds of billions of dollars, specifically in the arms sector and joint American-Saudi enterprises. For Washington and Riyadh, their relationship with each other yields immense benefits to both, but, at the same time, yields disasters for others and I am referring not only to the people of Syria and Yemen but also the people of the world in general, given Saudi Arabia's status as the primary global exporter of religious extremism and terrorism. When discussing Iran, the Saudis, who desperately want to see the overthrow of the Iranian Government and by any means necessary, can extract serious concessions from the Americans, though, as I previously said, Mr. Trump is a willing partner is pursuing an antagonistic agenda with regards to Tehran. Alas, Iran today must be all the more vigilant in safeguarding its national security.