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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/30/18

Olive Branch for North Korea, Bombs for Iran?

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From Common Dreams

The great tragedy of the horrifying specter of another Middle East war is that it is wholly fabricated by the US administration

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Meets with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
(Image by YouTube, Channel: U.S. Department of State)
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The Iran nuclear deal is on the verge of sinking on May 12, when Donald Trump will decide whether or not to waive the nuclear-related sanctions, as the deal calls for. While the world is cheering the upcoming meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un (including Trump's fans calling for a Nobel Peace Prize), Trump is needlessly and recklessly driving our nation down a path toward war with Iran -- and neither Congress nor the American people seem to care.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, fearing the consequences of a broken deal, visited the White House. Macron tried to appease Trump by suggesting new agreements to the deal, something Iran's government views as ludicrous. According to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani -- who has been subjected to enormous domestic criticism for striking a deal with Washington only to see the US threaten to back out so quickly: "We will not add anything to the deal or remove anything from it, even one sentence. The nuclear deal is the nuclear deal."

Instead of appeasing Trump's irrational stance, European leaders could have declared that they would side with Tehran by invoking a dispute resolution mechanism in the agreement, which could buy another 45 days to convince the United States to stay in the deal. They would have done better warning Trump they would invoke trade penalties if the United States tried to enforce sanctions on oil imports from Iran.

Instead, they left empty-handed and remained quiet when the US president, in their presence, continued to call the agreement "insane" and "ridiculous." At a press conference with Merkel by his side, Trump virtually threatened to bomb Iran if it tried to develop nuclear weapons.

This is something Trump's new National Security Adviser John Bolton advocated in a 2015 New York Times opinion piece entitled "To Stop Iran's Bomb, Bomb Iran," where he proposed a US or Israeli bombing of Iran's nuclear reactors. "An attack [on Iran's nuclear facilities] need not destroy Iran's entire nuclear infrastructure, but by breaking key links in the nuclear-fuel cycle, it could set back its program by three to five years," Bolton mused, adding, "The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what's necessary."

How would Iran respond? Iran and its allies, such as Hezbollah, could retaliate by attacking both Israeli and US troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and on military bases throughout the Middle East. The conflicts that have consumed the Middle East for the past 16 years would get infinitely worse, and drag the United States deeper into the abyss.

This is precisely where Trump's team seems to be headed. Newly installed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his first week on the job, traveled to Saudi Arabia and Israel -- Iran's greatest adversaries and opponents of the nuclear deal -- calling for concerted international action against Iran.

While Saudi Arabia just bombed a Yemeni wedding as part of its relentless, 3-year attacks that have been killing, maiming and starving millions of Yemenis, Pompeo ignored Yemen and instead concurred with the Saudi rulers that Iran "destabilizes this entire region." Pompeo also failed to mention that it is the Saudi's extremist Sunni ideology, not Iran's Shiism, that forms the theological underpinnings of radical terrorist groups from al-Qaeda to ISIS.

In Israel, Pompeo and Netanyahu complained that the nuclear deal does not do enough to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear-weapons capability, saying nothing about Israel's totally illegal nuclear arsenal. Israel has been advocating for the US military to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities, even though Israel has several hundred nuclear weapons of its own and Iran has none. And while Israel has refused to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and would never allow inspections of its nuclear facilities, Iran has joined the treaty and has agreed to the most intrusive inspections ever devised.

Israel immediately followed Pompeo's visit by striking an Iranian-linked target in Syria on April 30, killing 11 Iranian s and ratcheting up regional tensions.

The great tragedy of the horrifying specter of another Middle East war is that it is wholly fabricated by the US administration. The Iran deal is a good one (it would be amazing if Trump could negotiate as good a deal with North Korea) and Iran is fully complying with its end of the bargain. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said so in 10 consecutive reports. America's European allies have said so. So has a recent State Department report and Trump's own Defense Secretary James Mattis, who, by the way,told a congressional committee that keeping the nuclear agreement intact was in the US national interest.

The party that has not been in compliance is actually the United States. The deal requires that the signatories allow Iran's reintegration into the global economy. At a NATO summit last May, Trump tried to persuade European partners to stop making business deals with Iran. The Trump administration has also been blocking permits for companies to engage in commercial transactions with Iran.

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Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace and author of Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection. 

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