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Gary Yang: America’s self induced mess in Iran

Written by Gary Yang
Edited by Bhromor Rahman

United-States to Impose New Sanctions on Iran (yet again…)

Historical context
The United-States has applied a series of economic, military, and scientific sanctions on Iran since the 1970s as a punishment for developing their own nuclear weapons and supporting extremist groups like Hezbollah. However, it is important to note that the US-Iran conflict started much earlier in 1953 when the CIA deposed the elected government of Iran under Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstated an absolute monarchy under Shah Reza Pahlavi, essentially a puppet government. In 1979, after 26 years of dictatorship, an Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini forced the Shah to abdicate and flee the country as a new theocratic dictatorship under the Ayatollah regime, still in place to this day, that we all know and love (joke aside though, religious fundamentalism is not cool). Not to mention this whole mess was started over British oil interests in Iran to the surprise of literally no one.

The Iran Deal
Despite over half a century of hostilities, after decades of diplomatic efforts leading to a detente (reduction in hostilities) under the Obama administration, the United-States drafted the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known as the ‘‘Iran deal’’, with all the nations on the UN Security Council and the European Union in 2015. This pact would completely shut down Iran’s nuclear ambitions by notably limiting its uranium enrichment level to below 4% or just enough for their energy grid. For reference, medical research would require at least 20% enrichment which is already much less than the 90% enrichment needed to reach fission and develop nuclear weapons. In exchange, the economically crippling international sanctions on Iran would be lifted and the nation would receive investments from the international community for its development. Additionally, any of the involved parties in the pact, if they are dissatisfied with Iran’s behavior and suspect clandestine nuclear development, could trigger a “snapback” mechanism which snaps every international sanction back into place. In order to make sure Iran respects its part of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would be allowed to make surprise inspections at any time and in any facility.

Donald Trump
However, all of this was scrapped in 2018, under the Trump administration. The United-States withdrew from the JCPOA themselves as the President judged that the deal was against their interests, essentially voiding the biggest part of the deal and putting into question the United States’ leadership role in global affairs as well as their credibility. Indeed, it was a major foreign policy reversal, switching from coalition building to unilateralism. Moreover, the United States recently declared that it would trigger the snapback mechanism of the deal against Iran despite having withdrawn from it, to the disapproval of the international community. When the other powers did not show their support for the maneuver, the United States added that they would strongly sanction any nation which would not comply with their new sanctions on Iran, further alienating other nations, including the Americans’ own allies.

Final thoughts
The American behavior now resembles that of a bully, imposing their will and swinging back-and-forth on promises in a visibly self-interested manner. This raises many previously unasked questions, such as whether the United States’ leadership is as legitimate and beneficial to everyone as it was formerly assumed — by tyrannizing the international community, the Americans are diverging from the image they wish to project as the beacon of liberty and democracy around the world.

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