Iran Preparing Response to U.S. Sanctions, While Bolton’s Threat Looks Like a Replay of 2003 Iraq Invasion
Flash: May 7 (EIRNS)—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise visit today to Baghdad, after cancelling scheduled meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
May 7, 2019 (EIRNS)—May 8 marks the first anniversary since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, more formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On May 8, according to today’s Mehr News Agency, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be notifying the remaining five signatories to the agreement—Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, plus the European Union—that Iran will be reducing its commitments under the agreement due to the U.S. withdrawal. Rouhani will be sending a letter to the leaders of the five governments stressing that Iran has shown much restraint so far with regard to the JCPOA, while the U.S. has not abided by its commitments at all, leaving Iran with no other option than to reduce its commitments. In Tehran today, it is reported that the Iranian Parliament was meeting behind closed doors, about what its response options are.
In an earlier report Tasnim cited “informed sources” saying that Iran will exercise the rights granted to it by the JCPOA in the case one or more of the other parties fails to meet its obligations. Tasnim cites two paragraphs of the agreement, one of which allows Iran to go to the Joint Commission should one or more of the other parties not meet their commitments, while the second says that “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.”
In Washington, National Security Adviser John Bolton’s warning “message” to Iran on May 5 is beginning to look more like a replay of the Iraq WMD scenario of 2002-2003. Noteworthy in this, comes the revelation by prominent Israeli TV journalist Barak Ravid, that the Mossad provided the “indications” to the White House that Iran was preparing some kind of threat against U.S. assets in the Persian Gulf. Ravid wrote, in an article on the Axios news site,
“Behind the scenes: Information about possible Iranian plots against the U.S. or its allies in the Gulf were raised two weeks ago in talks held at the White House between an Israeli delegation headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and a U.S. team led by Bolton, the Israeli officials told me.”
Ravid quoted an unnamed Israeli official reporting, however, that the Mossad couldn’t provide any specifics about what actions the Iranians were contemplating taking.
Nonetheless, following Bolton’s statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Defense Department rushed to proclaim that the Iranian threat was real and the U.S. was ready to take action against it. While in Finland this week, Pompeo declared that the U.S. would hold Iran responsible for any action targeting the U.S. in the Middle East, whether by Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen or any other proxy group.
At the Pentagon, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan confirmed that the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were heading for the region, calling it a “prudent re-positioning of assets in response to indications of a credible threat by Iranian regime forces” and called on Iran to “cease all provocation.”
Not everybody is convinced, however, that the threat from Iran is real. A skeptical Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) charged that Trump’s
“team of saber-rattling foreign policy advisers are all but openly shouting their desire for an unauthorized and unconstitutional war with Iran, needlessly putting American troops and their families at risk.... Congress must act immediately to stop this reckless march to war before it is too late.”
Trita Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council, posted on Twitter, “This sounds completely made-up. Bolton is trying to make it look as if it is Iran that is itching for a fight,” in response to a post from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, who uncritically re-tweeted the Pentagon statement on the alleged threat. Parsi made the observation that “Bolton is on record having advocated war with Iran for more than two decades.”