US sanctions on Iran are ‘deliberately provocative,’ expert says – CNBC

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President Donald J. Trump signs a National Security Presidential Memorandum as he announces the withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal during a "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" event in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia Group’s analyst Henry Rome said in a note on Wednesday that while Rouhani’s decision to “openly chip away at its nuclear commitments” does not immediately bring it closer to a nuclear weapon, it “marks the beginning of a new and concerning dynamic between the U.S. and Iran that is ripe for miscalculation.”

The escalation came on the anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal and ratchets up already tense Washington-Tehran relations.

Trump’s administration has taken unprecedented steps in what the president calls a “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran. One example is when Washington designated the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist organization in April.

“There’s very few levers that can be pulled if Iran is under complete sanctions.”
-Roland Vogt, assistant professor of European Studies at the University of Hong Kong

According to Blanc, the current administration “seems enamored with the idea that economic pressure can lead to regime change.” Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “made careers calling for regime change,” he added.

“Economic pressure can be very, very effective when you’re trying to get a change in policy that is not core to a country’s national security interests, not core to a regime’s sense of its own survival,” Blanc said.

He added, however, that a reshuffle in the Iranian regime is more likely than a complete change.

There may be “a little bit of the realignment between the semi-democratic, semi-elected government, the kind of military industrial complex represented by the IRGC and the clerical establishment.” But the result of that is “very unlikely” to be in the interest of the U.S. or its allies, he said.

‘Unpredictable’ Iran

According to another expert, while the U.S. and the European Union share the same objective of keeping Iran nuclear-free, both world powers do not share the same ideas on how to get there.

In an interview with CNBC’s “Capital Connection” Thursday, Roland Vogt, an assistant professor of European Studies at the University of Hong Kong, said there is conviction in the U.S. that Iran “only responds to tough language.”

On the other hand, European capitals “have felt that Iran will not negotiate under blackmail or coercion,” he said.

Vogt, however, added that there is “merit” in pursuing the Iranian nuclear agreement because it allows “some sort of potential influence” over the Iranian government.

“Without it, (Iran) is very unpredictable,” Vogt said.

“There’s very few levers that can be pulled if Iran is under complete sanctions, that can be pulled in order to mobilize those forces within the Iranian government that want to come to a workable solution with the Western countries,” Vogt added.


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