Iran Focus

London, 9 Mar - U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to Iran is very different to the approach his predecessor took. Trump is adamant that the Iran threat will be dealt with in its entirety during his time in office. This includes its nuclear program, its ballistic missile program, its malign meddling and interference in the affairs of its neighbours, its support of proxy groups and militias across the Middle East, its export of terrorism, its corruption, its disregard of human rights, and so on.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama had taken the opposite approach. He gave Iran a number of concessions during the nuclear agreements, he turned a blind eye to the regime’s belligerence and he ignored the suffering of the people of Iran. He promised that the regime would become more moderate because of his administration’s light treatment. However, his strategy was a complete failure because Iran became even bolder in its belligerence. It realised that the Obama administration was too scared of holding the regime accountable for its actions because it did not want to jeopardise the nuclear agreement.

Trump acknowledged that this strategy did not work and he obviously considered the way forward with this in mind.

Earlier this week, Tom Udall and Richard J. Durbin, both Democratic Senators, wrote an article about Trump’s handling of Iran, claiming that he is pushing the two countries towards war. They said that his actions are “reckless” and called on Congress to stop him.

They compared Trump’s treatment of Iran to the Bush administration’s actions that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and said that Congress must ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

The two senators claim that Trump’s administration is leading the “false narratives that Iran is not meeting its obligations under the nuclear deal”. They also claim that the Trump administration is pushing the false narrative that Iran is “is somehow partially responsible for the rise of the Islamic State in Syria”. The senators are wrong to describe these as false narratives as they are both completely true.

Firstly, Iran has not met its obligations under the nuclear agreement. The nuclear deal permits Iran to operate up to a certain number of advanced nuclear centrifuges. Iran has operated more that it is permitted. The deal also defines how much heavy water Iran can have. This too has been exceeded. German intelligence shows that Iran is continuing to illicitly procure nuclear technology. And Iran is refusing to let inspectors verify their military and nuclear research facilities.

Secondly, Iran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has undoubtedly helped the Islamic State (ISIS) - and other terrorist groups for that matter – recruit more fighters. Iran has provided a huge amount of support to Assad’s regime and many were driven to join ISIS. Furthermore, Assad, to ensure that the West did not get their militaries involved, strengthened ISIS too.

Iran is the biggest threat to peace and security in the region and must be treated as such. It has been proven that policies of appeasement do not work with the Iranian regime so a tougher approach is necessary. Some argue that Trump should be even tougher on Iran.

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