Caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi, said in a tweet that Trump’s decision to increase economic sanctions on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top Iranian officials ends the “channel of diplomacy forever.”
Mousavi said “Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy. Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”
The new sanctions are meant to hinder Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system as well as their U.S. assets. These steps are intended to further cripple their already ravaged economy.
Following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal and restore sanctions, tensions have escalated between Washington and Tehran.
Trump said the sanctions “will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support.” He added “that the sanctions were in part a response to the shooting down of the drone, but would have happened anyway.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions “lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets.”
Hostilities erupted two weeks ago following the attack on two oil tankers, one Japanese and one Norwegian, in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. intelligence places the blame on Iran for those incidents, however, the country denies it.
Iran does take responsibility for shooting down a U.S. drone last week they claim was flying through Iranian airspace, which the U.S. emphatically denies.
Last Thursday, ten minutes before the U.S. was to poised to strike three Iranian military targets in retaliation for the drone attack, Trump cancelled the mission. He asked a general how many Iranians would die as a result. When he was given an answer of 150, he aborted the strike feeling that it wasn’t a proportionate response.
For obvious reasons, Iran would prefer to see a Democrat win the presidency in 2020. They know that a war with the U.S. would be very unpopular among most American voters. If Trump were to engage the U.S. in a new war in the Middle East, his odds of reelection would decline.
From this perspective, Iran is “baiting” Trump with their provocative acts. They would like nothing more than a U.S. attack on their country.
Trump campaigned on the senselessness of engaging in foreign wars. He is well aware of Iran’s strategy and he does not want the U.S. to become involved in a new war. But on Monday, he told reporters that his “restraint is not limitless.”
According to Fox News, National Security Adviser John Bolton “said the U.S. is open to negotiations, all Iran needs to do is “walk through that open door.” It was unclear if his response was in connection to Mousavi’s tweet.”
Fox also confirmed that the “U.S. military carried out a cyberattack against Iran last Thursday…Sources said U.S. Cyber Command launched the cyberattack targeting the Iranian intelligence and radar installations used to down the U.S. Navy drone last week.”
Aside from their menacing rhetoric, Iran’s position weakens every day as a result of the sanctions. And, if they continue perpetrating hostile acts, other nations may finally decide to join the U.S. and take action against the country. They can’t go on targeting ships and aircraft in the region at will and expect no consequences.
Unfortunately, we’re not at that point yet. On Monday, the United Nations Security Council condemned the attacks on the oil tankers and the drone, but they failed to condemn Iran.
Following the meeting, Acting U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jonathan Cohen spoke to reporters:
The Security Council and all nations should try to imagine the future of global air travel if a country can shoot down an aircraft merely for being in its flight information region. Indeed, we’ve already seen air carriers from around the world avoid Iran’s flight information region as a result.
Iran must understand that these attacks are unacceptable. It’s time for the world to join us in saying so.
The coordinates of the drone’s flight path and location make clear the aircraft at no point entered Iranian airspace. Iran’s claims to the contrary are false and rely on an argument that the U.S. aircraft was in Iran’s flight information region. But, a country’s flight information region is not the same as their airspace. The flight information region extends much further.
Iran should, as I said two weeks ago, meet diplomacy with diplomacy—a call Iran described as inflammatory.
Iran’s UN Ambassador Majid Ravanchi told reporters, “You can’t start a dialogue with somebody who is threatening you, intimidating you…The U.S. decision today to impose more sanctions against Iran is yet another indication that the U.S. has no respect for international law and order as well as the views of the overwhelming majority of the international community.”
Fox reported that, during the meeting, Germany’s Ambassador Christoph Heusgen read a statement on behalf of Germany, the United Kingdom and France. It said, “These developments risk miscalculation and conflict. We call for de-escalation and dialogue, with full respect for international rules.”
So, as I said, we’re not there yet. Most countries are putting their own economic interests ahead of what they surely have to see with their own eyes. Hopefully one day they will acknowledge the obvious.