Monday, August 20, 2018

Iran, North Korea and American Trustworthiness

A little-noted meeting between Iran's President Hassan Rohani and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is quite interesting, particularly given recent developments with North Korea's forsaking of its nuclear weapons program at the same time as the United States alleges that Iran is still in pursuit of the ultimate weapon.

Here's how the meeting was covered on the English language website of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

Let's pick out the most salient point from President Rouhani:

The US administration’s performance in these years has led the country to be considered untrustworthy and unreliable around the world that does not meet any of its obligations."

This has to be particularly concerning for the North Koreans to hear given that they are in the initial stages of negotiating a program of denuclearization with the United States.

In response, DPRK's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho observed that the American withdrawal from the JCPOA and attempts to restore sanctions as an action against international rules and regulations.

An interesting live televised interview of President Rouhani on August 6th, 2018 made the following points about the United States' stance towards Iran:

 “US officials make contradictory remarks.  Those who are in office in Iran today have been working with the motto of interaction, negotiation and the negotiation table since the start and they have even negotiated with Americans and others.  We negotiated for two years and reached an agreement that the Americans were more or less living up to; others were committed to it, and Iran completely lived up to its commitments.

 If somebody claims that they are willing to negotiate, they have to observe the basics, the first one of which is honesty that the two sides must believe in, as well as reaching a conclusion.  The person who is claiming to be willing to negotiate today, has withdrawn from all international commitments from Paris Agreement to its business commitments with other countries.

If somebody puts a knife in its opponent or enemy’s arm and says we want to negotiate; the answer is that they must first pull out the knife and then come to the negotiation table.  I believe that they want to wage a psychological war and create scepticism in the Iranian people to be able to use it in the coming Congress elections. So, Trump’s remarks are aimed at taking advantage of them in Congress elections.

We negotiated with the current US administration as well, but they themselves left the table and what they do is that they are against the people and national interests of the Iranian nation; therefore, if there is honesty, Iran has always welcomed negotiation.  Negotiation at the same time with sanctions is meaningless and these sanctions are targeting Iranian children and people.

I have no preconditions. If US administration is ready today, we’re ready to negotiate with them about the compensation that they must pay to Iranians since 1953.

The United States did not want to face Iran alone for sanctions, but wanted to force the whole world to boycott Iran. Trump wanted to take all of these achievements from us, and it is already calling for sanctions against Iran, but it has been unsuccessful." (my bolds)

For more information on what President Rouhani was referring to when he mentions 1953, the year in which the United States - United Kingdom designed and executed coup against Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, you can read my posting here.

Here is what Rouhani had to say about Iran's relationship with other nations and with its supporters:

" the first step of the US embargo, Europeans stood up against the United States, declaring that the law prohibited sanctions or blockade, saying that any company working with Iran would be boycotted if they listen to US’ call for sanctions and boycott Iran.

We are not alone all over the world, that is, all the countries around the world, with the exception of a few countries, support Iran, and consider Iran as a committed nation which can be trusted.

Politically, I think they (Europe) did the best they could. They took stances, talked, made regulations and explicitly called what the United States did unacceptable, and not only them, but the rest of the world did the same”

But in action and that how they plan to compensate for it, they have taken steps, and in our visit to Europe we talked with Europeans, China and Russia, and all of them promised that they would not pay attention to the sanctions."

Lastly, here is the most interesting part of his interview:

"China and Russia have stronger relations with us.  We want broader relations with Europe and the world”.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the United States stands alone when it comes to its stance on sanctions against Iran.

As was the case in the 1980s when South Africa headed the group of pariah nations that were subjected to economic and diplomatic sanctions which drove it to closer relationships with the world's other pariah nations, Iran has been driven into the arms of nations that the United States is shunning, most particularly North Korea, Russia and China.  The unanticipated consequences of this game of musical diplomatic chairs has come back to haunt the United States in the past and there is no reason to expect any different given the current but fading unipolar geopolitical reality.  Perhaps given Iran's experiences with American designed regime change in the 1950s, we should be a bit more understanding of their reticence when it comes to dealing with Washington.

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