US President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it in the Diplomatic Room at the White House in Washington, May 8, 2018.
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
When President Donald Trump announced in May that he would abandon the Obama-era nuclear pact with Iran and impose new sanctions on the terror-supporting state, the reaction from the Liberal Left was as one might expect—horror. Pronouncements of gloom and doom were prolific. Trump’s move was called “misguided” by Mr. Obama. Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J called the action a risk to “US national security, recklessly upending foundational partnerships with key US allies in Europe and gambling with Israel's security.”
Predictions included: Oil prices would rise dramatically and crush the US economy, and/or the allies who continued to support the Iranian regime would maintain trade practices giving Iran a sense of security and entitlement. Its nuclear program would be resurrected (had it ever died), and the entire world would be at risk. (When was it not?)
To the horror of President Trump’s detractors, thus far, none of these dire predictions have come to pass. Instead, like rats leaving a sinking ship, other countries have bailed on the deal with Iran. Oil prices have seen little variation, a sign of the president’s success and one the Democrats in Congress don’t wish to concede.
I ask you: Why in heaven’s name should the United States obsess over providing sanction relief for Iran? It is a Fascist state and Ground Zero for world terror. It funds and fuels the revolution in Syria, the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Mahdi Army in Iraq, and Shi’a extremists worldwide.
When the Obama administration marketed the JCPOA Iran nuclear deal to senators and representatives in 2015, Mr. Obama declared that the agreement was limited in scope; that only nuclear sanctions would be affected. President Obama assured the American people that the US would remain a wary adversary of Iran's regional avarice by reestablishing sanctions and other measures. What did the West reap from the deal with Iran? A suspension, albeit temporary, of that country’s nuclear pursuits seemingly increased openness regarding Iran’s stockpiles, centrifuges, and research facilities. When JCPOA was implemented, The Congress was informed that it would only be required to raise the sanctions that had been imposed on Iran. Only time will tell if that price could prove to be infinitely higher.
When the plan was approved by former president Obama, his jubilant remarks were broadcast in Iran. He boasted, “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.”
The “new direction” was the perhaps unintended signal to all terrorists worldwide that if you outwait the United States it is proof that crime really does pay. It was a clear call that the Obama administration was fearful of the results of standing firm against terrorism and terror states. This was likely the largest terror bonus in American history.
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Iran, seemingly eager to rattle the saber of war, wishes to gain superiority in the Persian Gulf and continue its support of the terrorist groups that act as its proxies; Russia, the once proud bear, desires to regain a dominant role on the world stage; and China, the Johnny-come-lately to the international political scene, wants to wrest the “superpower” title from the United States and desperately needs to keep the oil flowing to it from Iran. So long as America remains strong politically, economically, and militarily, those wishes will be thwarted. The United States needs to delineate ways to put increased pressure on both Russia and China to bring Iran to heel and force the leaders of the rogue nation to the bargaining table.
There are several things in President Trump’s favor as he seeks to withstand world opinion in an effort to defang the Iranian ayatollah. The world currently enjoys an over-abundance of oil supplies, in part because of the insurgence of fracking in the United States. Secondly, while European allies have sounded the alarm regarding nuclear proliferation, companies within those countries have decided not to play hardball with the US According to the new sanctions leveled by Mr. Trump, after November 4, the US will decline to do business with countries that violate the declaration. Added to that is the nervousness regarding economic and political upheaval in both Turkey and Argentina.
The new sanctions will also have an added effect on the Iranian oil producers who, because of the earlier restrictions, have not been able to keep up with industry standards and technology. Iran has been eclipsed by the addition of countries such as Canada and Brazil that, added to Saudi Arabia, Russia and now the US, produce sufficient streams of crude and petroleum to relieve worldwide worries about a deficit. One downside, however, could very well be increased Chinese and Russian influence in the region.
It is thought that Iranian oil exports could drop from the 2.7 million barrels shipped in 2018 to less than one million next year. Amy Myers Jaffe with the Council on Foreign Relations feels that Iran may never recoup the clout it once enjoyed due to oil exports. According to Ms. Jaffe, “People just don’t care if they are going to lose business in Iran. People don’t feel desperate for supply.”
For instance, Iranian oil shipments to South Korea, France, Austria, Japan, Greece and Spain have cut down on oil imports from Iran this year. Another 71 countries have plans to distance themselves from Iran. India had expressed its intention to halt buys from Iran, and has taken one step further—that of blocking payments to Iran for purchases of crude oil. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has tightened the screws on Iran with his statement: “Purchases of Iranian crude will go to zero from every country or sanctions will be imposed.”
Never willing to retreat, Iran continues to produce oil and is storing it, not on land, but in tankers in the Persian Gulf just off its coastline. It will continue to be hampered, though, because international purchases are conducted in U.S. dollars which only serve to reinforce President Trump’s sanctions.
Still, much of the blame for Iran’s lackluster performance on the world market belongs to President Hasan Rouhani’s economic team, which has proved no match for the economy’s mounting problems. During his 2013 bid for president, Rouhani was fond of saying that he held the key to the door of prosperity in Iran. If that is true, Rouhani failed to find the keyhole in time to save the country fiscally. Nearly five years after Rouhani’s election, Iran’s banking system is still insolvent, and the nation is still in financial decline.Mike Evans is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 80 published books. He is the founder of Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem of which the late President Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth president, was the chair.
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