USA – Iran: the war ?

Christian Malard (*)

The US President, Donald Trump, keeps repeating that he can face Iran without resort to war. However, it would be interesting to hear him specify what he would do if Iran was getting enough enriched uranium to make its nuclear bomb or if Iran took other initiatives that would make it cross the red line set by the United States.

US officials admit that if Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, sticks to the announcement of his intention to no longer limit the production of nuclear fuel, Iran could very quickly develop nuclear weapons.

Today, US allies are encouraging Donald Trump to clarify as soon as possible his strategic goals: does the confrontation with Iran aim to: 

– put an end to the nuclear ambitions of the Ayatollah regime?

– stop supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Houthis and Hezbollah?

– create the ideal conditions for the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahcracy in power since more than 40 years?

Donald Trump absolutely wants to leave 100% this nuclear deal signed under the Obama Administration, even though he hasn’t considered, a single moment, the predictable consequences when he rejected it in May 2018.

In fact, by leaving this deal, Donald Trump opened Pandora’s box. He is confronted nowadays, with the consequences of his decision. When he declares that he does not want war with Iran, he wants above all to show, whatever his most anti-Iranian advisor, John Bolton, boss of the National Security Council at the White House, can recommend, that he doesn’t support an armed conflict.

But, if Iran was very close to making the nuclear bomb, he and the Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu could, at any time, take action.

I am tempted to say that Donald Trump is familiar with this kind of situation. In 2017, he had insulted North Korean President Kim Jung Hun and threatened him with fire when the latter fired missiles and nuclear tests.

Since then, the two men have met several times. There has been no progress on the denuclearization of North Korea and Kim Jung Hun continues its Nuclear Program according to the confession of US intelligence services.

Undoubtedly, this did not escape to the Iranians who collaborate with the North Koreans on the nuclear. Today they probably must laugh at the factious tweets of Trump, imagining that neither Trump nor the US military seriously are considering a military intervention against the Islamic Republic. 

Iranians can not take Trump seriously when he denies wanting a change of the system. He is not reliable anymore when he states that “the Islamic Republic has a chance to be a big country with the same power in place.”  

Donald Trump often holds foreign policy speeches full of contradictory messages, ranging from threat to diplomacy. It’s a method that leaves his allies and his adversaries in the middle of the ford, in a world that needs certainty more than ever.

To bet on such a strategy towards Iran, means to know badly the Aytaollah regime, who will prefer to let his populaion suffer the horrors of sanctions, rather than give the impression of bending or to give in to American threats.  

The survival of the regime is at stake here, because to bend against external adversity would be a sign of weakness that would accentuate the internal pressures of the opposition and the youth and encourage the opponents of the regime to want to do battle. This would put the mullahs face a new popular uprising they would not recover. 

* Expert in international politics and diplomatic consultant.