The origin of the strong tensions now existing between the United States and Iran can be traced back to 2016, when before reaching power President Donald Trump attacked the nuclear agreement with the Persian nation.
Martha Andrés Román
On 21st March of that year, the then White House candidate told the annual conference of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee that his number one priority was to dismantle what he called “the disastrous pact with Iran.”
After his arrival at the executive mansion on 20th January 2017, the position of the current leader on that issue remained unchanged; on the contrary, Trump frequently attacked the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCAP) even when close allies of Washington continued to defend its effectiveness.
It was worth nothing that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continually reported that Tehran was fulfilling its obligations under the agreement signed in 2015 with six world powers (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany), the US president insisted with his attacks. On 17th July 2017, his administration certified to Congress that Iran still technically respected its commitments under the pact, but senior officials warned that this notification was made unwillingly, and the next day Washington imposed some sanctions unrelated to the nuclear sector.
After these actions, Trump’s hostile speech towards the Persian territory continued, and calls were also made by European nations for Washington not to abandon the mechanism, either with direct appeals to the head of state, or with letters sent by British, French and German parliamentarians to the North American Congress.
All these efforts were in vain, and on 8th May 2018, the US ruler fulfilled his electoral promise to withdraw the United States from the JCAP, a decision that drew criticism from Democrats and European partners, who reaffirmed their commitment to the agreement.
In addition to announcing the abandonment of the pact, Trump signed a presidential memorandum to institute the ‘highest level’ of economic sanctions against Iran.
On 8th August, the first punishments came into effect, which included aspects such as restricting Iran’s purchase of US dollars, trade in gold, precious metals, aluminium, steel, coal, software and transactions related to sovereign debt and the automotive sector.
The second round of sanctions came in November, directed against the banking, shipping, shipbuilding and oil sectors, and those restrictions intensified in the following months due to pressure from Washington to reduce exports of Iranian oil to zero. In the midst of all that American aggression, which also included the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran as a terrorist organization, among other actions, the IAEA reported in late May that the Persian country had remained within the limitations key to the nuclear agreement.
The bilateral tensions entered a state of greater confrontation from that month, after Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, confirmed sending an aircraft carrier and a bombing unit to the Middle East in order to send a ‘clear message’ to Iran.
To justify this increase in North American military presence in the region, Bolton and other members of the administration cited, without presenting evidence, alleged intelligence information about Tehran’s attempts to attack US forces.
At the end of May, Trump announced that he would send another 1,500 soldiers to the Middle East to counteract the influence of Iran in the area, and in mid-June the Pentagon announced the deployment of another 1,000 soldiers. The news about these latest troops spread after Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, accused Tehran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on 13th June, which was denied by the Persian nation and even put Washington partners in doubt.
On 21st June, meanwhile, the head of the White House approved military attacks against Iran that he later suspended at the last moment, in response to the shooting down of an American drone.
While the United States indicated that the aircraft was in international waters, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps pointed out that the unmanned spy aircraft, identified as RQ-4 Global Hawk, violated the Persian nation’s airspace
As this atmosphere of confrontation has continued, Iran began to take responsive actions, and on 7th July it announced that it would begin to cross the 3.67 percent limit of enriched uranium established in the JCAP.
The Iranian government’s spokesperson, Ali Rabii, recalled that Tehran decided to remain in the plan so that all countries, the region and the entire world would benefit, but noted that the United States made a strategic error in withdrawing from the mechanism.
Trump, who in earlier days had accused Iran of breaking a pact that he abandoned more than a year ago, warned Tehran after the announcement on uranium to be “careful”, and Pompeo threatened further isolation and sanctions.
However, despite the positions of his Government, several voices within the United States recall that it was the very head of the White House who with his decisions led to the current situation. (PL)
(Translated by Hannah Phelvin – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay