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Monday, March 18, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Something extraordinary has happened in Washington. President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October—the facts be damned. In short, the fix is in. Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. His advisors have even been kind enough to explain how they will go about this. Rarely has a sinister plan to destroy an arms control agreement and pave the way for war been so openly telegraphed.

The unmasking of Trump’s plans to sabotage the nuclear deal began two weeks ago when he reluctantly had to certify that Iran indeed was in compliance. Both the US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Tehran’s fair play. But Trump threw a tantrum in the Oval Office and berated his national security team for not having found a way to claim Iran was cheating. According to Foreign Policy, the adults in the room—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster—eventually calmed Trump down but only on the condition that they double down on finding a way for the president to blow up the deal by October.

Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that—empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal.

In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal—as well as Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

But now, assessments are changing. The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal—as well as the danger of the advice of the “adults in the room”—became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.

How to Wreck a Deal

Recognizing that refusing to certify Iran would isolate the United States, Trump’s advisors gave him another plan. Use the spot-inspections mechanism of the nuclear deal, they suggested, to demand access to a whole set of military sites in Iran. Once Iran balks—which it will since the mechanism is only supposed to be used if tangible evidence exists that those sites are being used for illicit nuclear activities—Trump can claim that Iran is in violation, blowing up the nuclear deal while shifting the blame to Tehran.

Thus, the advice of the adults in the room—those who we are supposed to restrain Trump—was not to keep the highly successful nuclear deal that has taken both an Iranian bomb and war with Iran off the table. Rather, they recommended killing it in a manner that would conceal Trump’s malice and shift the cost to Iran.

According to The New York Times, the groundwork for this strategy has already been laid. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) calls this strategy “radical enforcement” of the deal. “If they don’t let us in,” Corker told The Washington Post, “boom.” Then he added: “You want the breakup of this deal to be about Iran. You don’t want it to be about the U.S., because we want our allies with us.”

This is a charade, a rerun of the machinations that resulted in the Iraq war. It doesn’t matter what Iran does or doesn’t do. If it were up to Trump, he’d never have accepted that Iran was in compliance in the first place. He admitted as much to the Wall Street Journal. “If it was up to me, I would have had them [the Iranians] non-compliant 180 days ago.”

Sounding supremely confident of the “radical implementation” strategy, Trump added that “I think they’ll be noncompliant [in October].” In so doing, he further confirmed doubts that the process is about determining whether Iran is in compliance or not. The administration is committed to finding a way to claim Iran has violated the accord, regardless of the facts—just as George W. Bush did with Iraq.

Potential for Backfire

But Trump’s confidence may be misplaced on two levels. First, abusing the inspection mechanisms of the deal may prove harder than Trump has been led to believe. The inspections are the cornerstone of the deal, and Iran’s ability to cheat on the deal is essentially non-existent as long as the integrity and efficiency of the inspections remain in tact. But if Trump begins to abuse the mechanism to fabricate a conflict, he will end up undermining the inspections regime and actually enhance the ability of those in Iran who would like to pursue a covert nuclear program. Precisely because of the commitment of Europe and others to non-proliferation, they are likely to resist Trump’s efforts to tinker with the inspections.

Second, by revealing his hand, Trump has displayed his duplicity for all to see. That includes the American public, whose anti-war sentiments remain strong and are a key reason they supported the nuclear deal in the first place.

The American public knows the Iraq playbook quite well. Trump’s own supporters remain enraged by the disastrous war with Iraq. They know how they got played. It’s difficult to imagine why they would allow themselves to get played again by a president who has left little doubt about his intent to deceive.


Trita Parsi’s most recent book is Losing An Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale University Press, 2017).

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20 responses to “Trump Lays Groundwork To Sabotage Iran Nuclear Deal”

  1. Bonissima91910 says:

    The Era of Trump feel like being sucked by the vortex of a sewage plant flush!

  2. Daniel Jones says:

    Before the city got built, D.C. was a swamp.

    It’s a swamp again.

    • Dapper Dan says:

      I know look at that Dump trump and 44 other presidents have had to live in at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave

      • dpaano says:

        He’s only upset because he misses all his “gold” encrusted crap in the Trump Tower…..personally, I think his apartment there is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!!! It’s so gaudy that it’s disgusting!!

  3. If Congress doesn’t get over it’s infatuation with being feeble-minded and in power, Donald will do more than wreck deals made by saner minds. War has always been a distinct possibility since the Cold War, and along comes Trump, when so many new state actors, some with nuclear capacity, are in the mix.

    Iran, N. Korea, and several other places are already run by despotic regimes, and all it takes is an egomaniac to come along and upset a delicate balance, simply because he wasn’t in on the decision-making. Always the narcissist, but a nuke might be necessary to wake him from his fantasy—the rest of us are already cognizant of the possibility.

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    • dpaano says:

      Unfortunately, if any of those countries lob a nuke at us….it certainly won’t cause Trump any problems, and he certainly doesn’t care what happens to the West Coast or the East Coast anyway! Of course, if a bomb hits Trump Tower….he may get a little upset and have another one of his “tantrums,” but he won’t have anyone to blame it on but himself (but, of course, he’ll blame it on Iran or “his” generals)!!!

  4. Dominick Vila says:

    Trump’s obsession with the Iran nuclear deal has nothing to do with pressure from opponents, including the desires of Saudi Arabia and Israel. He is determined to sabotage that agreement, and endanger the security of the world if necessary, to continue to dismantle the accomplishments made by President Obama. He has found little to no opposition in dismantling President Obama’s EOs on domestic issues, doing it when it involves international agreements that all the other signatories respect and are determined to preserve, is another matter. To do that he will use a ruse similar to what we are doing with North Korea’s latest missile test, which we claim re-entered the Earth atmosphere in the same trajectory as an Air France passenger plane that had just gone by. Donald “Deferment” Trump is not interested in what is best for the USA, or humanity, but what is best for him politically, and whenever possible, poke a finger in President Obama’s eyes.

    • Cathymbrown says:

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  5. Dapper Dan says:

    Oh my so our illustrious President has tantrums. And to think I thought that was reserved for toddlers. He doesn’t like the Iran deal because his predecessor who was a real President negotiated the inspections program to ensure compliance. Maybe working in that dump referring to the WhiteHouse has affected his great judgement. He needs to leave and let any real adults left in Washington to work together without the child in the room

  6. pics fixer says:

    This all fits to the kind of man Mr. Trump is. If a deal made by the president before him is working then you must kill is rather than build on it. The end result can be extremely bad for everyone. He does not see past his nose and has no comprehension of the troubles he will cause. Why, because he is Donald Trump and is always right. We may all pay for that ego of his.

  7. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Anything and everything President Obama did is to this Lard Ass in Chief something that must be destroyed.

    Now, let’s look at the reasons Obama choose to remove the Iran sanctions. A. Iran has the world’s largest oil resources. Something Trump’s Saudis consider major competition. B. Fossil fuels are no longer the only energy sources which makes sanctions on the world’s largest oil producer no longer a threat to US Big Oil. C. Obama also realized that by removing the sanctions on Iran, the price of oil would force the Saudis and OPEC to stop being the major oil source.

    Moving right along, Tillerson and Trump are HUGE Big Oil Investors. Tillerson in Exxon and Trump in several major oil stocks from which he elicits much of his ROI profits.

    Conflict of interest? What else?

    Trump is just a spiteful little bastard who belives HE IS the ONLY government. A word from him is like a word from his lover Putin.

    The reality is that right now Trump is turning the US energy policies so far back that it now resembles something out of the 1930s. No one heats or cools homes with coal. Yet, coal is what Trump is pushing as part of his “jobs creation.” What next? The Coal Company store?

    The only reason Trump is focused on coal production, which by the way, will not even be for US use, but will be shipped to Russian countries since the Siberian coal mining operation is a major failure is to aid and abet Putin.

    Trump would stand in front of Trump Tower on 5th Avenue and kiss Putin’s bare ass and not think twice about it. But the righties want you to believe Trump has NOTHING to hide, right?

  8. Richard Prescott says:

    Well given the fact that he had to sign the increased sanctions bill ( ) passed by an overwhelming margin in both Houses he may now have a bit more difficult time.
    Yes, just in, he signed the bill. Had he not done so would have made it more than patently obvious he was colluding with Russia. (FYI – for those not following, it increased sanctions on Iran, Russia and N. Korea and made it so the President could NOT alter anything WITHOUT full House approval). This was done by the GOP and Dems with only a total of 4 dissenting votes overall.
    I just wish that the House would come up with other bills limiting his BS regressive actions in 1) energy, 2) environment, 3) education and 4) government parklands.
    I have seen a lot of partisan BS political arguing over the years, but nothing at this level of disrespect for anything progressive and future looking.

    • dpaano says:

      His main goal is to do away with ANYTHING that the previous president did….not because any of it was ridiculous but because he’s a jealous, vindictive, narcissistic idiot without a brain in his orange-haired head!

  9. ps0rjl says:

    You can bet if we start a war with Iran, there wont be any Trump’s in it. They’re all too important to reap what Daddy “Draft Dodger” sows. They’ll cheer from way back.

    • Nativegrammy says:

      I have two grandsons, 23 and 15 at one point or other a coward like Trump would have NO problem starting up the draft again, and I’ll be damned if that idiot is going to give a cowardly order to feed his grandiose opinion of himself as a “war time” president. Everything he is doing is for utter nonsense, primarily to undo whatever good Pres. Obama did trying to keep the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon……..Trump being the unbelievably petty, small minded vengeful jerky idiot he is….. my grandsons are not going to go to some asinine war in the God Forsaken Middle East to no end so Trumpy can show what a STRONG MAN he envisions himself…..I say lets put him and his worthless sons right out front in a charge fighting a bunch of pissed of Iranians……..I am beyond sick of these damn wars and what it is doing to our military men and women, let alone the billions in costs, in Iraq, Afghanistan or ANYWHERE EAST/SOUTH EAST of the Mediterranean Sea……

  10. dpaano says:

    So far, Trump has pretty much gotten us into an “almost” war with North Korea, and now he’s going to get us back into another war with Iran for no reason whatsoever. I suggest that we immediately enlist Donald Jr. and Eric into the military and let them go fight a war and see how Trump likes having his sons in danger!!! What an a$$…..the most we can hope for is that Congress will stop him or his generals will rebel against this ridiculous idea! As I said when he was elected, I’ll give him a year to get us in a recession and/or a war……looks like I may be right!

  11. Nativegrammy says:

    Stating the obvious, if this story is true, what the Hell is McMaster, Tillerson, and Mattis “colluding” with the orange monster to accomplish this sinister and cynical plan deliberately, while, if indeed the Iranians are in compliance with the Nuclear Agreement!!!! WHAT is in it for any of these old fools??? Do these three men really want their hard earned reputations, completely blown up forever. And when “their” childish “der leader” throws fits of rage, why doesn’t one of them grow a pair and confront his idiocy! Surely one of them must realize he will start a war somewhere down the road or at a minimum there will be a terrorist attack as a result of his utter and total stupidity……at which time my concern is NOT the attack or even the terrorist from which ever cesspool he crawls out of, as much as it is with the unanticipated questionable response from the untrustworthy, despicable LYING creature occupying the White House who by this whole story is again proving completely UNFIT to be a president of a Kindergarten class, let alone the most powerful country in history!!!

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