IranSource | Understanding and Analyzing a Multifaceted Iran

In the aftermath of the Trump administration’s decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian hardliners have called on the government to also pull out and immediately accelerate Iran’s nuclear program.

Kayhan, a newspaper that is considered the mouthpiece of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Javan, an outlet close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, both said Iran should restart its nuclear project. “Trump has torn up the nuclear deal, it is time for us to burn it,” Kayhan wrote. IRGC Commander Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari told Fars News that the US exit from the JCPOA was a "good omen" for Iran and called for boosting Iran's defense capabilities. Some hardline analysts went as far to suggest that the IRGC should use the situation to stage a military coup.

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On May 8, 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced the United States would re-impose sanctions on Iran and withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

On May 9, the Middle East Security Initiative (MSI) in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security convened a panel of experts for a conference call conversation assessing the implications of President Trump’s decision. Rachel Brandenburg, MSI Director, moderated the discussion, which featured senior fellows Amir Handjani and David Mortlock, board director Dov Zakheim, Future of Iran Initiative Director Barbara Slavin, and Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director for Foreign Policy and Senior Fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

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The European signatories to the Iran nuclear deal are seeking ways to soften the bite of US sanctions on companies doing business in the Islamic Republic, David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, said at the Atlantic Council on May 14.

Though upset by US President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, the European signatories are committed to the agreement. “The European Union (EU) will maintain its commitment to the nuclear deal, as long as Iran does the same,” said O’Sullivan. “We Europeans believe that we are bound by our commitment if we want Iran to stay in the deal,” he added. 

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The evening US President Donald J. Trump took the United States out of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it smelled in Israel as if war was coming. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Cyprus. His Chief of Staff canceled  his speech in the prestigious Herzliya conference. A few minutes before President Trump began his remarks, the Israel Defense Forces ordered residents of the Golan Heights (a northern region bordering Syria to brace for a possible attack from Syria, due to “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria.” CNN reported that American officials had similar concerns and the State Department issued a travel advisory for the Golan Heights.

Shortly after the president’s speech, Israeli planes launched what seemed to be a pre-emptive strike against an Iranian missile site located in a military base in southern Syria. The following day, Iranian forces fired a barrage of rockets on Israeli posts in the Golan. Israel retaliated (or rather, used the opportunity) to conduct a massive air raid on dozens of Syrian and Iranian targets in Syria.

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President Donald J. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal will have very serious consequences for the Middle East and for Iran itself, as well as upcoming US negotiations with North Korea. It will also add severe new tensions to an already strained transatlantic alliance and place many Central and East European countries in an untenable situation.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s May 8 announcement that he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal was broadly consistent with what many observers expected from the administration. However, because the sanctions component proved tougher than most predicted, the full scope of economic and political ramifications remains unknown.

While the United States gears up for the reimposition of broad secondary and narrower primary US sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activity, there will be a wind-down period for ceasing business, allowing for at least some transition time.  

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Three years ago, Iranians celebrated in the streets of Tehran after a deal was struck between their government and the P5+1 countries to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Three years later, there were once again celebrations in Iran after US President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This time hardliners in parliament set fire to a photo of an American flag and chanted, “We burned America! We burned the JCPOA!”

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President Trump’s decision today to leave the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was the most significant foreign policy decision yet for this administration.

It is no accident that Trump announced it even as he dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. These two engagements will do much to define the Trump administration’s policy toward nuclear proliferators and determine whether Trump’s disruptive approach can produce real results.        

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On April 29, 2018, Israel carried out airstrikes against a number of Iranian positions in Syria, including a weapons storage site that housed a large cache of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles. This is only the latest strike in Israel’s increased attacks against Iran in Syria in 2018. Previously, Israel struck the T4 (Tiyas) airbase on April 9, 2018 in a strike that served a dual purpose: to retaliate against the base from where an armed Iranian drone shot down over Israeli airspace in February was launched, and to produce a crippling strike against Iran’s UAV capabilities in Syria. Both sides have exchanged a war of threats in recent weeks, and many are wondering how, and more significantly, when Iran will respond. Many analysts are concerned that a direct Iranian attack on Israel will spark a regional war.

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US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 withdrew the United States from the multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran.

The deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)— was struck in 2015 by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and Iran.

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