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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump

Experts: Trump’s Pressure Tactics Will Not Work

Experts say if Europe and the US seek regional cooperation with Iran, they must acknowledge that Iran—as any sovereign state—has legitimate security concerns and a right to defensive capabilities

Experts: Trump’s Pressure Tactics Will Not Work

A new coercive approach toward Iran over its regional and missile policies will not result in its capitulation and is bound to lead to a dangerous escalation, say two political experts. 
The history of the negotiations that led to the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers show that applying further pressure on the country would backfire, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former spokesperson of Iran’s nuclear dossier, and Sina Toossi, a senior research specialist at Princeton University, wrote in a recent commentary published by the National Interest.
They argue that while US President Donald Trump appears to believe Washington can coerce Iran to its desired path, with only a matter of applying more pressure for a longer period, his untenable conditions to “fix” the accord promise a dangerous escalation.
Trump said on January 12 he would extend a waiver on nuclear sanctions against Iran for the last time to give Washington and its European allies a final chance to amend the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or face a US exit. 

  Pursuing Western Consensus
“Trump’s withdrawal threat is aimed at creating western consensus on imposing new multilateral sanctions on Iran for its regional and ballistic-missile policies,” the article said, adding that the deal would collapse if Europe joins the United States in pursuing new sanctions.
The experts wrote that during the era of former US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, maximalist US demands such as zero uranium enrichment did not result in Iran capitulating, even in the face of an unparalleled international sanctions regime. 
“Instead, Iran expanded its own bargaining chip of nuclear capacity—including by increasing its number of centrifuges and level of enrichment,” Mousavian and Toossi said. Iran says its nuclear program has only peaceful aims.
“Similarly, to pressure Iran now for its regional and missile policies will not result in Iran backing down, but rather will create a new escalation cycle as Iran will seek to secure its core interests,” the article said.  
As an example, they noted while Iran has voluntarily limited the range of its ballistic missiles to 2,000 kilometers, Iranian military commanders have said this could be increased in response to foreign pressure. 
“Likewise, Iran may respond to efforts to isolate it by strengthening regional anti-western alliances,” the specialists wrote. 
They argue that what led to the JCPOA was Obama leaving the war-path escalation entailed and both sides deciding to cash in their respective bargaining chips of nuclear capacity and sanctions. 
“They met each other’s demands halfway: the United States accepted Iran’s right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to use the nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful purposes, and Iran agreed to transparency and inspection measures beyond anything agreed to by an NPT signatory to boost confidence in the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.” 

  Need for Balance of Power 
 Accordingly, if Europe and the US seek regional cooperation with Iran, then they must acknowledge that Iran—as any sovereign state—has legitimate security concerns and a right to defensive capabilities, the experts said. 
They added, “Realistic US and European efforts to foster regional peace must focus on promoting a balance of power between regional powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, not on inflaming their differences.”
Regional stability will also not be served by scuttling the JCPOA, which could spark an arms race, but can be enhanced by drawing on its tenets to realize a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, read the article.
“The JCPOA showed that constructive engagement between Iran and the West is possible, provided there is mutual acknowledgement of legitimate interests, and solutions are ‘win-win’.”  
With that said, Iran has no reason to trust in any new negotiation unless the West fully and properly implements its JCPOA obligations, Mousavian and Toossi concluded.  

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