and Pompeoís Plan for Iran: Itís Risky,
But It Has a Chance of Succeeding
Dubowitz and Richard Goldberg
New York Daily
May 21, 2018
of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech on Monday outlining President Trump's
new strategy to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran: Intensify the Iranian
regime's ongoing liquidity and political crisis to induce fundamental changes in
behavior across a range of malign activities. In short, maximum diplomacy backed
by maximum pressure.
speech today was a reply to the critics of the administration's Iran policy who
have argued that Trump had no "Plan B" for the day after his May 8
decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. That deal gave the
Islamic Republic patient pathways to nuclear weapons, regional dominance and
tens of billions of dollars to fund its dangerous and destructive conduct. The
secretary of state's speech also was an invitation to Europeans, caught between
an Iranian rock and a Trumpian hard place, to move beyond their disagreements
over Trump's decision.
way forward: a comprehensive approach to address what Pompeo called the
"massive scope of Iranian malign behavior."
his remarks, Pompeo outlined 12 basic requirements for Tehran to meet in any
strategic agreement, including the end to all uranium enrichment and pursuit of
plutonium reprocessing, "unqualified access" to all sites for UN
weapons inspectors, the termination of Iran's nuclear-capable missile program,
the return of all American and foreign hostages, and the cessation of support
for terrorism and other aggressive conduct in the Middle East.
exchange, the secretary said that Trump will go big on any deal and put
"all principal components" of American sanctions on the table as well
as the "re-establishment of full diplomatic and commercial relations."
this new strategy, the President and his secretary of state have given a green
light to the financial warriors in the U.S. Treasury Department to unleash what
Pompeo called the "strongest sanctions in history by the time we are
done." This pressure will only intensify as the pre-Iran deal sanctions are
Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, the Iranian rial-U.S. dollar
exchange on the black market, where most Iranians trade their currencies,
plummeted to almost 70,000 to one (on the eve of the 1979 Islamic Revolution,
the exchange rate was 70 to one). Inflation has skyrocketed to over 70%, the
banking sector is in crisis, and Iranians are on the streets in daily protest
against the regime's economic mismanagement, gross corruption, foreign
adventurism and domestic repression.
an American-led financial assault against Tehran is underway, European leaders
are feeling politically violated by Washington. Believing they had engaged in
good faith talks for months, and coming close to reaching a supplemental
agreement with the U.S. that met most of Mr. Trump's demands to fix the deal,
they now see Washington poised to use secondary, or extraterritorial, sanctions
to threaten their economic sovereignty. They are invoking blocking laws making
it illegal for their companies to comply with U.S. sanctions and are looking to
use European sovereign banks to finance trade with Iran.
as the mullahs are threatening the Europeans with nuclear escalation if they
don't invest billions of dollars to save the regime's economy from collapse,
Trump is promising severe penalties if they do. European companies already are
heading in the opposite direction with major energy, insurance and shipping
firms signaling their intention to cut business ties with Tehran unless their
governments can negotiate waivers from sanctions. As Pompeo warned, that is not
call for renewed diplomacy with the Europeans and his effort to broaden the
diplomatic coalition to America's Gulf and Asian allies may yet succeed. But the
secretary of state will be challenged in uniting this fractious coalition of
countries, many of whom are eager to trade with Iran and already are smarting
from tariff negotiations and North Korea sanctions enforcement.
leaders of France and Germany, however, made clear last week they have no
interest in a transatlantic trade war over Iran. After Trump's announcement to
withdraw from the nuclear deal, French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his
call for a comprehensive agreement that addresses Iran's nuclear program,
missiles and destructive regional conduct. While the French president sees the
JCPOA as a key pillar of such an agreement, he now has an opportunity to embrace
Pompeo's diplomatic overture, preserve the transatlantic allianc, and help
Washington drive historic changes in Iranian regime behavior.
new initiative Pompeo presented includes big demands and big concessions that go
far beyond the old nuclear agreement. The diplomatic process towards such a deal
could give Europe a possible way out from both Iranian and American escalation.
But it also may be a non-starter for furious EU leaders who might see no
advantage to signing up to American-led diplomacy with a president whom they see
as unreliable and a threat to their economic and political sovereignty.
The administration has an ambitious plan with a clear objective: Force the Iranian regime to make a choice between reaching a comprehensive strategic agreement or facing unrelenting pressure that might break it. For now, the Iranian regime seems focused on driving a wedge between Europe and the U.S. and trying to isolate Washington. Western leaders should work to foil this scheme. The question is how long can the mullahs hold out before the pressure gets too high and what is Trump willing to do if they decide to swing for the nuclear fences?