Netanyahu lobby’s pressure on Trump over Iran deal makes US exit likely – Prof

Sputnik– Iran’s top nuclear specialist has said that Tehran’s options in the event of a US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of action (JCPOA) include restarting its nuclear program. Alexander Azadegan, Iranian-American professor of geopolitics and editor-in-chief of ImperiaNews, spoke to Sputnik about what’s driving the US’s Iran policy.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi cautioned that Iran would “startle” the US with its response should Washington withdraw from the JCPOA. Salehi’s remarks come amid concerns by other JCPOA signatories, including Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France, over a possible US exit. The White House has until May 12 to decide whether to keep the nuclear deal in place, or to withdraw.

Last week, Trump secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo told lawmakers that the US needs to “fix” the Iran deal, and that “if we conclude that this cannot be fixed, that there are serious shortcomings, then I will recommend to the president that we will work with our allies to achieve a better outcome and a better deal.” Pompeo’s comments follow months of repeated statements by the president about the nuclear deal being a ‘mistake’.

Speaking to Sputnik Iran, Alexander Azadegan said that the Trump administration’s constant talk about the deal being a mistake was just “empty words,” and “an element of psychological warfare.”

“Trump’s negotiating style is such that he will not allow both sides in the process to be winners. His method is a ‘win-lose’ situation,” in which the US must always come out the ‘winner’, and the other side the ‘loser’, the geopolitical analyst explained.

At the same time, amid the tensions between Iran and Israel, which escalated this weekamid the two countries’ military operations in Syria, Azadegan pointed to an interesting but generally forgotten provision in the JCPOA.

“If Israel wants to attack Iran, the JCPOA has a point which the US could use allowing them to stand up and defend Iran,” the analyst recalled. “But these are just idealistic notions which American negotiators set out during the Obama presidency. In reality, if Israel were to attack someone in the region, the US definitely wouldn’t interfere; in fact, they would stand behind Israel.” he added.

According to Azadegan, if Trump does exit from the nuclear deal, and thus provides Iran with the opportunity to do the same, this could actually serve in Iran’s favor. “Right now, this deal is not bringing Iran any great economic benefit,” the analyst said, pointing to what has happened to the exchange rate recently, with the Iranian toman falling considerably against the dollar.

At the same time, the professor pointed to the interests driving the US’s Iran policy under Trump. “Everyone is concerned about Trump’s decision on the nuclear deal in May. Given the pressure exerted on him on [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu and his lobby, the likelihood that the nuclear deal will be broken is very strong,” he said.

As for the prospect of the US Congress intervening and stopping Trump from pulling out, Azadegan said that Congress does not have the legislative authority to do so.

“Any interference, even from the standpoint of international law, will be considered illegal,” the political scientist explained. “Any interference, even from the standpoint of international law, will be illegal. This was not a bilateral agreement between Trump and Iran. It was an agreement between Iran and six other powers, and one accounting for the interests of each signatory.”

Furthermore, the analyst noted that in any case, Congress is beholden to Israeli and Saudi interests.

Ultimately, Azadegan stressed that “if one is to be a realist, it’s worth looking at how Trump left the Paris agreement overnight, paying no attention to any laws. Therefore, I can say with confidence that Trump and his administration are the most [legally] illiterate people in US history. They have very little support. They’ve lost in the Middle East – in Libya, in Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The only thing left for them is aggression. As the American saying goes, ‘the best defense is a good offense’,” the analyst concluded.