0520 GMT March 25, 2019
Last year, the current US national security adviser John Bolton who plays the fundamental role in dealing with the Iran issue in the White House, presented a plan for Washington’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and implementation of a project to topple the Iranian government to Trump and the country’s national security team.
The plan comprised key strategies about the form of the unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA — signed between Iran and P5+1, consultation and cooperation with Israel and Saudi Arabia, carrying out heavy diplomatic work on Europe, and making the necessary move to topple the Iranian government.
Some of the moves stipulated in this plan are:
1. Imposing a wide spectrum of new sanctions; 2. Raising and focusing on the issue of Iran’s peaceful ballistic missile program, terrorism in the region, and Tehran’s regional role; 3. Holding talks with Israel for launching military operations against Iran; 4. Collaborating with the Persian Gulf littoral (Arab) states to reduce Iran’s regional role; 5. Launching a propaganda campaign against Iran claiming that Tehran has violated the spirit and terms of the JCPOA; 6. Ordering US embassies to conduct comprehensive anti-Iran diplomatic activities; 7. Drawing up and executing comprehensive and extensive plans to shape public opinion in the US and the world as it desires, 8. Adopting the contradictory tactics of intensifying pressure on China and Russia and then supporting them for holding talks with Iran and limiting the country’s regional role; 9. Compiling a complete list of foreign companies active in Iran and devising a plan to compel them to stop their cooperation with the country; 10. Devising an extensive plan for holding talks with members of US Congress to convince them to accompany and back Trump in his new anti-Iran moves and projects; 11. Limiting Iranians’ role in the international arena by, for instance, banning their entry into the US; 12. Activating American judicial authorities to pass decrees aimed at blocking Iran’s possessions and properties; and 13. Supporting separatist Kurds and Arabs in Iran.
Moves by the Trump administration, three of which will be listed in the following paragraph, during the past 12 months have been precisely aimed at facilitating the execution of these strategies:
1. The speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressing a gathering of Iranian-Americans in the US; 2. The Bolton-hatched plot that the US discloses fake information prior to its withdrawal from the JCPOA, claiming that Iran is still seeking to build a nuclear bomb; and 3. Inviting Iran to come to the negotiation table following Washington’s exit from the JCPOA.
When a few days ago, Trump said he is willing to enter into negotiations with Iran without any preconditions, I had no doubt that Iran would refuse the offer. Therefore, in an article published in the Persian-language Etemad newspaper, entitled, ‘If I were in Rouhani’s shoes,’ I suggested to President Hassan Rouhani, in response to Trump’s offer, to propose that he come and visit Tehran. Some in Iran were surprised by my proposal while others described it as humor. A number of people told me, “In the recent interviews you have given, you stressed that you are against talks with the US under the present circumstances. Why have you changed your stance?”
It was crystal clear for me that Trump’s insistence on announcing his willingness to hold talks with Tehran was part of the pre-planned scenario against Iran, and that it was better for Iran to foil this plot by proposing that Trump travel to Tehran.
However, since Trump is unpredictable, he might welcome Iran’s offer to visit Tehran. In this case, the Israeli-Saudi lobby as well as American neocons would trigger a political earthquake in the US and prevent Trump from taking this trip. In the event that this scenario unfolds, the ball will remain in Washington’s court. We observed that within three days after Iran rejected the US proposal for holding negotiations, Trump made the offer again, while Tel Aviv and Riyadh opted to remain silent.
Following the complete reimposition of the first and second phases of US sanctions on Iran, President Trump may repeat his willingness for talks with Iran several times and then cease, so that concurrent with intensifying sanctions pressure on Tehran, he could put the blame on Iran and present himself as a man of peace and dialogue.
At the present time, it is critical that Iran take the following measures while focusing on these five areas: 1. Minimizing the impacts of the new sanctions; 2. Improving the condition of the domestic economy; 3. Using an effective and efficient diplomacy; 4. Enlightening international public opinion; and 5. Foiling plots by anti-Iran lobbies in the US and the West.
Achieving this will not be possible without strong will, unity, national concord, a correct understanding of domestic, regional and international circumstances, and a comprehensive – yet realistic – plan.
* Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a former Iranian diplomat.