Since Trump came to power, the US foreign policy towards Iran has been based on the creation and maintenance of a psychological security environment in the region and the world to exert pressure on Iran, using various tools and methods. By resorting to certain fundamental principles of international law such as non-violation of human rights, respect for the territorial integrity of countries, lack of support for terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and accusing Iran of these, the United States seeks to create a common discourse against Iran, that is understandable to the world public opinion and has the capability to bring together different political views in different parts of the world around this common goal.
As a result, through applying pressure on Iran and introducing Iran as a threat, the United States is aiming at the world beyond governments and is targeting public opinion so that introduction of Iran as a country disrupting the international order and security can be carried out in a more institutionalized way.
One of the tools that the current US administration utilizes to keep the issue of Iran in focus at the level of world leaders and, as a result, to put pressure on it, is not declaring clear positions about the future of the JCPOA. This policy causes worries among the leaders of different countries and business executives all the time about political relations with and investment in Iran, which, of course, is part of the Iranophobia plot. Similarly, after US President’s decertification of the JCPOA and his referring it to the Congress to decide on its future, the Congress did not reach agreement after 60 days. In other words, the JCPOA was deliberately not put at the top of the agenda of the Congress. They preferred to focus on issues such as reviewing tax reform and defense spending in 2018 to increase their chances of success, given that midterm elections are gradually approaching. Now, the decision on the JCPOA has been passed on to the president, and until January 13, he should announce the final decision on it. Of course, it should be noted that immediately after Trump did not confirm Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA on October 13, Senator Corker and Senator Cotton presented a bill to incorporate the changes which Trump had in mind into the JCPOA. However, after failing to win the support of Democrats, Senator Corker announced that he had abandoned it. He later on remarked that it is necessary for the US administration to win the support of Washington’s European allies. Otherwise, members of the Congress would not agree on a plan which would be opposed by the Europeans.
Of course, it does not seem that on January 13, Trump will announce the death of the JCPOA. Rather, the same hang-up strategy will continue. Thus, the game will begin all over again and Trump will refuse to confirm Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA. Then the issue will be punted to the Congress, and the Congress will treat the nuclear deal in the way it has done over the past two months. In this way, the Americans will continue to keep the JCPOA in suspense. That is, the story is repeated every three months. Therefore, Trump will not confirm this deal until the end of his term. Neither will the Congress. In this way, the deal will be in suspense; that is, it will neither be cancelled, nor confirmed by the President of the United States. Rather, the atmosphere of fear and anxiety about US actions about the JCPOA will persist.
One other method that the US has used to show that Iran is a threat is appealing to international institutions and organizations such as the United Nations. By demonstrating some parts of the Yemeni rocket launched into Saudi Arabia, the US representative to the United Nations claimed that the missile had been manufactured in Iran, and that this was a flagrant violation of United Nations’ Resolution 2231. She announced that the United States is seeking to form a coalition against Iran to counter its missile program. However, shortly after that, the Secretary of Defense, correcting her, stated that the United States is seeking to form a diplomatic coalition, not a military one. In addition, the claims made by Nikki Haley were not confirmed by European countries and the United Nations, either. Even some US defense officials said they could not say for sure that the rocket launched had been manufactured in Iran. Nonetheless, the US ambassador to the United Nations, who has been given the job of highlighting Iran’s threat, has again attributed the Yemeni rocket fired at a royal palace in Riyadh to Iran without any supporting evidence. On the other hand, the United States is gradually gaining European support against Iran’s missile program. This was clearly seen during the visit the French Foreign Minister paid to Washington, as well as the Security Council’s meeting on the implementation of Resolution 2231, in which European powers emphasized the threat posed by Iran’s missile program.
Another way to continue the strategy of Iranophobia is to publish reports that are of interest to the international community, including the publication of a new national security strategy in which a lot of focus has been placed on Iran’s being a threat to US interests. By publishing this strategy, the White House again called Iran as a threat to US interests and even global peace and accused Iran of supporting terrorist groups.
Still, another method is to work with regional partners and to hold meetings in which Iran is the central issue. That is why, every now and then, US officials travel to the region with a focus on Iran’s being a threat and meet with their partners. In this same vein, McMaster, the US national security advisor, described the US strategy against Iran as a comprehensive one. According to him, blocking all Iran’s pathways to the development of nuclear weapons, countering Iran’s destabilizing behaviors and working with US allies and partners in the region are vital parts of this strategy. The US ambassador to Iraq also said that the United States is seeking to confront Iran’s influence in Iraq and intends to help the central government of Baghdad to resolve conflicts and problems with the Kurdish territory.
However, one of the most important and the oldest methods that the United States adopts is to exert pressure on Iran and to keep Iran in focus on the international scene through resort to Iran’s human rights issue, supporting domestic opposition and the rights of minorities, which was the case in the recent turmoil in Iran. Immediately after the economic demands made by people in some cities turned into turmoil and unrest, the US officials reacted and called these the rightful demands of the Iranian people. Trump also immediately expressed his support for this protest in Twitter to highlight the issue, in spite of the fact that in his speech in the United Nations, he had earlier called Iranian people “terrorists”. The White House spokesman also threatened: “The days of US’s disregarding the oppression in Iran have come to an end.” After that, members of the US Congress also tried to support this protest by tweeting in order to highlight it.
In the Congress, the House of Representatives is still active against Iran and over the last two weeks, three bills and resolutions have been proposed against Iran. First, the bill “Ban on Arms Sale to Iran” was proposed in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, which called for measures to be taken to prevent arms sale to Iran without the Security Council’s permission. In this bill, it has been indicated that the US Secretary of State must stop weapons sale to Iran through diplomatic engagements with governments of countries that are proposing to sell weapons to Iran. In fact, the main goal of this bill is countries like Russia and China.
The House of Representatives approved a bill, requiring the Treasury Department to publish a report on the assets and possessions of senior Iranian leaders.
The third bill, also known as H.R.4324, or the “Intensification of US Congressional Oversight of Aircraft Sales to Iran” was approved. The bill obliges the US administration to report on airline sales to Iran. Of course, it is unlikely that the bill will stop aircraft sale to Iran. However, it will force the Treasury Department to assure the Congress that the sale of a passenger aircraft to Iran does not involve the risk of money laundering or terrorism.
As pointed out above, applying pressure on Iran and the intensification of the restrictions in place are among the systematic US policies against Iran, which will continue in future. However, the tools utilized for applying pressure will vary with time and place. At present, one of the means of applying pressure is to keep the JCPOA in suspense, with the intention of preventing economic growth and welfare in Iran, and ultimately placing the IRGC in a position opposed to the people, because in view of the United States, the main culprit contributing to all Iran’s unruly behaviors is supported and backed by the IRGC. Therefore, it seems that over the coming years, no significant progress will be made in the fulfillment of the West’s commitments to Iran as they relate to the JPCOA; the nuclear deal will only be used to put pressure on Iran and the paragraphs in the JCPOA which are related to monitoring Iran’s military and defense capability will be given priority.
In addition, one of America’s plans is to create and support protests in Iran and to establish relations with internal dissidents, which surfaced in recent protests in Iran, and the expectation is that in the event of the Internet being disconnected, in order to communicate better with protestors and in order to exploit the situation, the United States will contemplate providing Satellite-based Internet services to Iranian protestors to support them.