Trump Isn’t Looking For War: Why Trump Threatens Iran

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Key points in this article:

  • Trump wants to increase military pressure and commence talks with Iran
  • Trump wants Iran to withdraw from the nuclear deal and accept complete denuclearization
  • Japan is in a potential mediator position between Iran and Israel

The U.S.-Iran confrontation on the denuclearization issue feels like a war might be just around the corner.

On the 19th, President Trump tweeted, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” He has been strengthening pressures on Iran, dispatching aircraft carriers and bombers to the Middle East.

The Associated Press reported on the 24th that the Department of Defense communicated the option to the White House to send 10,000 military reinforcements into the area. One can almost smell the fumes of an impending war through these reports, but this is not what Trump really wants.

Amidst suspicions of fake news coverage on this topic, on the 16th of May the press asked Trump if the U.S. were going to war with Iran, to which he responded, “Hope not.”

Acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, explains that the administration’s aim is to “prevent Iranian miscalculation.” “This is about deterrence, not about war.”

Despite the display of potential military action, Trump’s true goal is to make Iran sit down to discuss a comprehensive denuclearization.


Withdrawal From Nuclear Deal

Let us now look at the current stage in the negotiations. It all began in 2018 when Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal signed in 2015 during the Obama administration because he decided that it was insufficient in countering Iran’s threat.

Now, the U.S. seeks from North Korea a final, fully verified denuclearization (FFVD). In the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, however, there was no pledge for a ‘final’ denuclearization. It still left open the possibility for nuclear development.

And in 2017, Iran tested their ballistic missile and succeeded. The weapon has a range of 2000km and allows for the attachment of multiple warheads. The distance between Iran and Israel is 1700km, so if Iran’s nuclear developments turn out successfully, it would give them the power to nuke Israel.

On top of this, if North Korea’s ICBM technology leaks into Iran, they will then have the power to attack Washington D.C. with nuclear weapons.

This was why Trump withdrew from the self-defeating nuclear deal, and is now hurrying to create a situation where Iran will forever be banned from nuclear development.

That’s what Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is about. On the 2nd, Trump extended bans on importing Iranian crude oil to include countries such as Japan that were waived since it was instigated last November. When Iran paused part of the agreements promised in the nuclear deal, Trump signed an EO banning the trade of metals such as steel, aluminum and copper.

The extension on the oil ban brought out some severe consequences. Since Iran had to stop exporting to countries like Japan, South Korea, and many parts of Europe, this caused a spike in domestic commodity prices, and a subsequent rise in unemployment.

Iran is now spending its foreign currency reserves, as the Irani standard of living is, nonetheless, getting strained.


Sanctions Will Relax If Iran Follows The Conditions

But we must remember that Trump doesn’t want a confrontation with Iran, and is prepared to relax the sanctions.

In May 2018, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, outlined 12 demands to Iran including a complete ban on enriched uranium, thorough denuclearization inspections by the IAEA, and a close-down of ballistic missile developments. The U.S. is prepared to relax sanctions if and when Iran puts those demands into action.

On the 21st, Pompeo said on a radio interview that while each of the 12 demands are basic and rational; Iran has unfortunately failed to undertake any of them.


Iran Will Eventually Give In To Discussions

Trump began his maximum pressure campaign on North Korea in response to their continued ICBM and nuclear tests. But it was also a means of getting Kim Jong-un to sit down properly to talk.

The current case with Iran is the same. His economic and military siege on Iran is a means to getting Iran to agree to a comprehensive agreement.

Of course Trump isn’t just waiting idly. He is probably preparing a measure, so that the next president – who could potentially be a Democrat – cannot go back and sign the old nuclear deal again, thus nullifying all of Trump’s efforts.

So the Trump administration is multitasking: waiting for Iran to agree to hold talks while simultaneously taking on a hardline stance.


Can Japan Shoulder The Responsibility of the Mediator?

Finally, let us look at what Japan could do.

Iran’s passion for nuclear development comes from the fear of Israel’s nuclear capabilities. Meanwhile Trump is becoming ever more pro-Israel. Trump plans to instigate a Middle East peace deal in June (the so-called deal of the century), but specialists think that it would be a deal that leans towards Israel.

For example, Trump has been ignoring Israel’s Jewish settlements on the west bank of the Jordan River. The population has grown to around 400,000. This is a violation of the delicate Israel-Palestine coexistence balance, and ignoring this move could hardly be called impartial.

Is Iran takes up nuclear weapons, so will Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and this will not only threaten the existence of Israel, it will be the beginning of a nuclear trend. If Trump, who aims for Iran’s denuclearization, continues to favor Israel, it will still leave deadly roots stuck in the ground.

On the 16th, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Japan seeking the country to mediate between Iran and Trump. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seemed reluctant to take on that responsibility, but Prime Minister Abe has scheduled a visit to Iran in mid-June nonetheless.

Japan is a country that doesn’t have any historical connection with the Middle East, and is in an ample position to take on the role of mediator. As the only country on the planet to have suffered an atomic attack, Japan should come up with a strategy to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and put that into action through the role of mediator.

(Hanako Cho)

Trump Isn’t Looking For War: Why Trump Threatens Iran
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