When the Trump administration tries to consolidate international support for its case against Tehran, it doubts that two key objectives are limiting Iran's nuclear program and returning to Iran's self-confidence in the Middle East. So far, its policies have had the opposite effect.
By explaining the administration's demands last year for a new agreement in Iran, State Secretary Mike Pompeo insisted that Iran ceased to enrich all uranium and halt its "malignant behavior" in the Middle East, promising to impose "the Strongest Sanctions in History. "These sanctions are now in place and Iran's economy has been pushed into a deep recession.
The tensions in the Persian Gulf augmented by the feud between Iran and the United States have a global influence. WSJ's Gerald F. Seib explains. Photo: Getty
But Iran has warned that it will soon exceed the limit of low-enriched uranium stocks set by the 201
On Thursday, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps raised the effort of shooting down an American military surveillance drone over the Hormuz Strait. The Iranian media said the drone was operating in the Iranian sky. But the American Central Command, which confirmed that the drone was being shot down by an Iranian superficial missile, said it was in the international sky.
The defense of the administration's strategy, Brian Hook, the State Department's Special Representative for Iran, told Congress that the punitive sanctions imposed by the United States have forced Tehran to reduce its military budget, cut its support for militant groups and perhaps lead it back to the negotiating table – this time on the US terms.
"In almost all measurements, the regime and its proxies are weaker," said Mr Hook on Wednesday. "Our press campaign works."
But while President Trump insists he is ready to talk to Iran's leaders, there are no talks known to be in progress. Leaders on both sides have said they are not seeking a military confrontation. But both sides are trying to build their leverage. Air Force General Paul Selva, Vice-President of the Joint Chiefs, recognized on Tuesday that "the risk of miscalculation is real."
Emphasize the continuing dangers, Mr Hook later attended a classified briefing with the Pentagon and intelligence officials of two Senate panels on Iran's recent actions and the US response.
The increased tensions in Persian Gulf are the latest twist in the Trump administration's Iran policy, which began with a US push to persuade Allies to smooth the 2015 deal. Completed by six world powers with Iran, the agreement allows Tehran to enrich some uranium and lift international sanctions against Iran to accept restrictions on its nuclear program.
When the Trump administration fought to secure support for this approach from its European Allies, French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Trump warned in a meeting in April 2018 that one could risk a war with Tehran.
But Mr Trump left the agreement the following month and figured that the imposition of severe sanctions would weaken Iran's military position in the region and perhaps the strongest Tehran to accede to a stricter agreement that would bring Iran's support to militant groups cease and completely cease enrichment.
In June 2018, Mr. Trump said his decision had already led Iran to slow down its aggressive behavior. "Iran is not the same country it was a few months ago," said Mr. Trump then. But when the financial pressure on the Tehran regime began to build in recent months, the administration was worried that Iran and its proxies are starting to throw out.
To spokesman for Mr. Trump's policy is the attacks on the oil tankers indicating that security in the region may have to worsen before Iran is driven to the negotiating table, and Tehran becomes more compatible.
For critics Recent violence is a sign that the United States has plunged into a dangerous confrontation with an adversary whose mark of paramilitary warfare is relatively inexpensive, and very likely does not accept the administration's dozen claims which include the withdrawal of all forces under Iran's command from Syria.
"If the Trump administration is serious about the negotiations – and it is far from clear that it is – it must signal convincingly that its 12 far-reaching demands are not immutable. So far, its approach has been take-it-or-leave -it, "said Robert Einhorn, a former senior prime minister involved in the negotiations in Iran during the Obama administration.
"Trump should offer not to adopt new sanctions if Iran agrees to negotiate and remain within JCPOA limits," added Mr Einhorn, using the acronym for the 2015 nuclear power agreement from Iran.
Mr. Hook on Wednesday gave no expression to the negotiation flexibility of his congressional appearance, claiming that the administration had offered Iran an "off ramp" from recent tensions through diplomacy.
With little expectation that US and Iranian negotiations are underway Hook's next mission is to travel to the Middle East and European capitals to share intelligence on Iran's activities and seek to build support for the administration's policies.
Iran has said it will exceed the low enriched uranium cap set out in the 2015 agreement on June 27 if it does not begin to reap the economic benefits it expected under the agreement, which was particularly affected. of European companies' fear of US sanctions.
Hook would like to try to persuade United Kingdom, Germany, and France representatives to detain the US maximum pressure access.
He doesn't have the last word. The following day, Iran is expected to attend a meeting in Vienna with France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China. European officials say no sharp response to Iran's threatened nuclear fracture is likely for some time.
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