How The U.S. Is Pressing Iran To Breach The Nuclear Deal
By Moon Of Alabama
May 09, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - 363 days ago the U.S. left the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 'nuclear deal' with Iran, and reintroduced sanctions against trade with Iran.
When the U.S. reintroduced sanctions on Iran it provided sanction 'wavers' for some customers of Iranian oil. Two weeks ago the extremists in the Trump administration won out and the those waivers were eliminated. Some of Iran's customers, Iraq, Turkey and China, will continue to buy Iranian oil and will face U.S. sanctions.
The declared aim of the Trump administration's 'maximum pressure campaign' is to bring all trade with Iran to zero and the country to its knees.
On Wednesday May 8, one years after the U.S. breached the deal, it will announce additional sanctions against the country:
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that new sanctions would target petrochemical sales. I'm told the administration will likely impose those sanctions soon, but the new sanctions planned for this week will target a different sector of the Iranian economy.
The only European response to the new announcements was a lame statement. The EU should fight for the JCPOA deal as it is in its interest. But instead it is slow-walking its badly designed INSTEX mechanism that would allow for sanction free trade with Iran.
Iran will use the anniversary of the U.S. breach of the deal to announce that it will no longer stick to some of the restrictions of the JCPOA.
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The U.S. is not only sanctioning Iranian trade that was promised to be opened under the JCPOA deal, it is also trying to eliminate all other beneficial elements of the deal.
The Trump administration wants to force Iran to come into breach of the deal to then use that as an excuse for further action against the country.
Iran is allowed to enrich Uranium under the deal, but it is not allowed to hold large amounts of ready enriched Uranium. Enriched Uranium is valuable and Iran found a customer who bought it. Iran also produces heavy water, needed to cool some types of reactors, and exports it. These trades were previously provided with waivers. The Trump administration did not renew those wavers and the export of those products will end. Iran will have to either stop all enrichment and heavy water production or it will have to store what it produces and thereby come into breach of the JCPOA agreement.
Another nuclear trade was about the revamping of the Arak heavy water reactor. Running that reactor in its original form would have produced some plutonium as a byproduct. After the JCPOA agreement Iran contracted a Russian company to convert the Arak reactor into a type that could produce isotopes for medical purposes. The U.S. waiver for that deal has now been time restricted to 90 days. The Russian company is now under a 90 day threat of U.S. sanctions for a project that takes years of design and construction.
Iran is starting to counter the U.S. moves. On Wednesday the Iranian president Rouhani will announce that Iran will take measures based on paragraphs 26 and 37 of the nuclear deal (pdf). Paragraph 26 says that the the EU and the U.S. will lift all nuclear related sanctions and will refrain from re-introducing any. It continues:
Iran has stated that it will treat such a re-introduction or re-imposition of the sanctions specified in Annex II, or such an imposition of new nuclear-related sanctions, as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.
Paragraph 37 is part of the "Dispute Resolution Mechanism" which ends with an involvement of the UN Security Council where the U.S. can block the process. It therefore includes at its end:
Iran has stated that if sanctions are reinstated in whole or in part, Iran will treat that as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part.
Iran will use these clauses to 'breach' some of the provisions of the deal while keeping the deal intact. It will continue to allow the IAEA free access to all elements of its nuclear facilities. Iran will not cease enrichment. It will begin to store enriched uranium above the level that is above the one allowed under an intact JCPOA. The same will apply to the heavy water Iran produces. It will probably also announce the construction of a new self developed reactor that is designed to produce radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.
The EU, Russia and China have been unofficially informed about the steps Iran is going to take. Tomorrow there will be expert level talks over JCPOA between Iran, Germany, UK, France, Russia and China in Brussels.
That Iran is forced to temporarily accumulate products above the level allowed in the deal is solely caused by the U.S. breach of that deal, i.e. its new sanctions. It is unlikely that the other JCPOA signers will regard Iran's as being in breach of the JCPOA. The U.S. will of course scream bloody murder and will continue to do what it would have done anyway - ratchet the tensions further up
Yesterday National Security Advisor John 'Stache' Bolton announced that an aircraft carrier and U.S. long range bombers would be send to Gulf to counter and imminent threat from Iran. That was empty bluster.
Micah Zenko @MicahZenko - 1:07 utc - 6 May 2019
Bolton framing a routine deployment of the Lincoln to CENTCOM AOR as an attempt to frighten Iran is an especially weak and hollow threat.
The carrier deployment to the Gulf is routine. It had been announced on April 8. The U.S. has bombers on rotation in the Middle East since 2001. Moreover - a carrier in the Persian Gulf is a sure sign that the U.S. will not attack Iran. Within the restricted waters of the Persian Gulf a carrier is a too easy target.
The idea though may be to provide for an 'accident' as Iran's Foreign Minister described it in a recent CBS interview:
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I don't think military confrontation will happen. I think people have more prudence than allowing a military confrontation to happen. But, I think the U.S. administration is putting things in place for accidents to happen. And there has to be extreme vigilance, so that people who are planning this type of accident would not have their way.
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean? What kind of accident are you talking about?
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I'm talking about people who have- who are designing confrontation, whose interest--
MARGARET BRENNAN: Who's doing that?
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: My 'B' team. I call--
MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean 'B' team?
FOREIGN MINISTER ZARIF: I call the group 'B' team who have always tried to create tension, whose continued existence depends on tension. Ambassador Bolton, one 'B,' Bibi Netanyahu, second 'B,' Bin Zayed, third 'B,' Bin Salman, fourth 'B.' And I'm not just making accusations. ...
The Trump administration is hoping that its new sanctions will not raise the oil price. That is unlikely to hold as the oil market is stretched:
Trying to take out Venezuela and Iran simultaneously tightens the oil market. Additional upsets in Libya or a less expected area such as Algeria or Nigeria could exceed available spare capacity. The US production will expand with higher prices but cannot switch on and off at command like a true strategic producer.
Its predominantly very light crude is not a good replacement for diesel-rich medium-heavy barrels, like those from these two countries. This issue may become more acute at the end of this year when as much as 1 million barrels of diesel may be required worldwide to meet new shipping fuel regulations.
The lighter U.S. and Arab variants of oil can not replace the heavy types. One can crack the long hydrocarbon chains of heavy oil into lighter types but one can not easily make long chains from short ones.
Rising oil prices may be the only factor that could press Trump to change his confrontational strategy towards Iran. But the big danger now is that the extremists in his administration will ratchet up the various conflicts in the Middle East until they explode and make it impossible to change course.
They are only waiting for the 'accidents' to happen.
This article was originally published by "Moon Of Alabama" -
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