Trump administration pulls out of 1955 treaty with Iran

US President Donald J. Trump’s administration said on October 3 it was terminating the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran. Announcing the decision, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted “the absolute absurdity” of remaining in the treaty given the prevailing high tensions between the United States and Iran.

Later, speaking at the White House, US National Security Advisor John Bolton accused Iran of having made a “mockery” of the treaty “with its support for terrorism, provocative ballistic missile proliferation, and malign behavior throughout the Middle East.”

“Theater is part of diplomacy,” said William F. Wechsler, interim director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

“In this case, we have a largely symbolic US action regarding a mainly obsolete treaty in response to another largely symbolic Iranian action regarding a generally ineffectual court,” he added.

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US President Donald J. Trump on September 25 used his second address to the United Nations General Assembly to reaffirm his commitment to an America First approach to foreign policy.

“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination,” Trump told the gathering of world leaders at the opening of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. He laid out his vision for US foreign policy, with an emphasis on protecting US sovereignty from global governance and rising globalization.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, backed by Russia and Iran, has made clear its intentions to seize control of Idlib province—the last remaining rebel-held stronghold in the war-ravaged nation. Now, with Russian ships moored in the Mediterranean Sea and Assad’s forces closing in from the south, it is methodically going about doing just that.

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You would not know it from reading the news, but the Iran nuclear deal is still alive. The Europeans, however, are faced with an impossible task: to preserve an international agreement that cannot survive without Washington’s backing in the face of an aggressive US posture toward Tehran.

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On Monday, US President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order detailing the framework for re-imposing sanctions on Iran, which were lifted under the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) nuclear deal, with the goal of getting Iran back to the table to negotiate a deal covering not just Iran’s nuclear weapons program, but also Tehran’s other malign activity. Immediately after issuing the order, Trump tweeted that these were the most biting sanctions ever and would be ratcheted up to another level in November.  This is, of course, not true. 

The sanctions the administration is re-imposing in two waves (August and November) on Iran are effectively the same sanctions that were in place in 2013 and led to the JCPOA negotiations.  Unlike 2013, the Trump administration does not have the full support of the international community and is not bolstered by several United Nations Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran to generate maximum pressure on Tehran.  Instead, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has caused an ugly split with our European allies who passed a blocking regulation preventing EU companies from complying with US sanctions on Iran and has drawn the ire of the other deal signatories, China and Russia, and key partners – such as Turkey, India, Japan, and South Korea – who went along with US sanctions in 2013. 

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As part of the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the US Treasury Department will restore sanctions on a number of key Iranian sectors and activities on August 6.

Here’s what you need to know about this set of sanctions:

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Tension continues to escalate along the Israeli-Syrian border with the recent regime southern offensive to oust opposition in the area and Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Continued activity along the border is expected as Iran continues to solidify its hold on Syria. Yet Israeli's strategy is less clear as Iran continues to test the boundaries pushing Israel to act in Syria; among other actors like the Islamic State. We asked our nonresident senior fellows former Ambassador Frederic C. Hof, and Mona Alami about Israeli’s current and potential involvement in the Syrian conflict as it develops.

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“If they impose sanctions on Iran's oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz.''

After a long week of Iran headlines – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laying out the administration’s Iran strategy, Presidents Trump and Rouhani trading implicit threats of war, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Suleimani addressing Trump by name in a speech - one might be forgiven for mistaking the above as a recent quote.

But that threat is actually from 2012, when Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi decried Obama administration oil sanctions in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent threat to close the Strait of Hormuz is not new, but rather a tactic Tehran has turned to again and again to get what it wants.

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Eight days ago, US President Donald J. Trump warned Hassan Rouhani of dire “consequences” should the Iranian president persist with his threats against the United States.

On July 30, Trump said he would be willing to meet with the Iranian leader at any time “with no preconditions.”

“If they [the Iranians] want to meet, we’ll meet,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the White House in Washington.

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US President Donald J. Trump, in a late-night, all-caps tweet on July 22, threatened Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have suffered before” if Iranian leaders continued to threaten the United States with war.

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