Former US official says Trump’s approach toward Iran is a ‘strategic mistake’

Tehran Times – Ernest J. Moniz, a former U.S. energy secretary, has said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration’s approach toward Iran is a “strategic mistake”.

Moniz, who was energy secretary from May 2013 to January 2017 under former President Barack Obama, said at the Ecosperity Conference in Singapore on Thursday that Washington’s hardening approach risks provoking Iran not to comply with the 2015 nuclear agreement, according to CNBC.

Moniz said he believed Iran was still adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But he warned that the nuclear power could change its mind “within a month or so.”

On May 8, Iran announced a partial withdrawal from some aspects of the pact, saying that the country would no longer adhere to some of the limits on its nuclear activities. It also threatened to step up uranium enrichment if an agreement is not made within 60 days to shield it from the sanctions’ effects.

Under the JCPOA, Iran agreed to put caps on its nuclear work in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions. However, Trump unilaterally pulled Washington out of the nuclear deal in May 2018 and ordered reimposition of sanctions against Iran. The first round of sanctions went into force on August 6 and the second round, which targets Iran’s oil exports and banks, were snapped back on November 4.

Also, on April 22 the U.S. announced that Washington has decided not to extend waivers allowing major importers to continue buying oil from Iran. The waivers ended on May 2.

Rob Macaire, the British Ambassador to Tehran, has said the U.S. policy of exerting maximum pressure against Iran will reach nowhere.

In an interview with an Iranian newspaper published on June 2, he expressed regret over Washington’s act in quitting the nuclear deal.

President Hassan Rouhani said on June 1 that Iran will not surrender to powers who bully and make excessive demands.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told ABC News in an interview published on June 2 that Iran will not be intimidated by President Trump’s “art of the deal pressure” by using economic sanctions to push Iran to negotiate a new nuclear deal.

He said that “there will be consequences” if the U.S. keeps up its economic pressure campaign against Iran’s people.

Zarif labeled the new U.S. sanctions as “economic terrorism” that “targets ordinary Iranian people” because even though food and medicine are exempted from the sanctions, the financial transactions associated with them are not.

“If the objective of President Trump is to impose pressure on normal Iranians, on ordinary Iranians, he is certainly achieving that,” Zarif said. “But he will not achieve his policy objectives through pressure on the Iranians.”