Iran Rightly Fears An Attack by Trump

Iran Fears Attack by Trump; Quds Leader Instructs Shia Militia to Hold Fire Against US Targets

By Jacob JNovember 25, 2020 15:55 +08

Will President Donald Trump launch an attack against Iran in the dying days of his presidency? This question was initially a barb used by Trump haters to insinuate that the president might use the war to roil the election chaos further and stay on as president. However, a White House meeting last week that decided not to go ahead with the Iran attack plan made this charge a damp squib.

However, it seems the Iranians are still harboring fears of Trump fury. The latest reports say that Iran has ordered its allies in Iraq not to provoke the US under any circumstances. Tehran knows for certain that a missile attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone that kills a single American can turn the tables on them and give Trump enough reason to launch a legitimate attack on Iran.

‘Halt Attacks Until Biden Comes to Power’

The Middle East Eye reported exclusively that Iran sent a Quds force commander, Ismail Qaani, to Baghdad to instruct allies that they should refrain from all attacks until Joe Biden takes power in the White House.

Qasem Soleimani, Quds Force commander killed in US strike Wikimedia Commons

Qani arrived in Baghdad just 24 hours after rockets fired by Iraqi militia aligned with Iran fell outside the US embassy in Baghdad, the report said. The rockets missed the target but caused civilian casualties. For months, Iran’s armed proxies have been launching rocket attacks against the US targets in Iraq.

A Washington Post story last week said that though Trump dropped the plan to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran, he would still go ahead if there is provocation. The story said that Trump has laid out a ‘Tripwire’ for Iran — if any American is killed in an action that can be tied back to Iranian hands, a retaliation will be swift and certain.

‘Trump Wants to Drag Region Into an Open War’

Trump would not shy away from using a trigger to launch a full-scale strike on Iran, sources cited by the Post suggest. The revelation follows a report by The New York Times that said Trump mulled attacking an Iranian nuclear facility two weeks ago.

Iran is seized of this scenario completely, and is taking precautions to avert a last-minute move by the Trump administration, even as it is going ahead with its nuclear enrichment program that violates the terms of the deal with the world powers.

Though Trump has taken off the table a pre-emptive attack plan, Iran is still in his radar. The administration will not hesitate to launch an Iran attack in the event of an attack in the region that can be linked to Tehran. The scenario raises the possibility of the US launching a strike on Iran before January 20th, the report says.

Iran is, therefore, taking ample precautions. “Qaani made it clear that Trump wants to drag the region into an open war before leaving, to take revenge on his opponents over losing the election, and it is not in our interest to give him any justification to start such a war,” a senior commander of a Shia armed faction the Middle East Eye.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran September 14, 2007. Reuters

Trump Sends B-52 Bombers to Persian Gulf

Before travelling to Iraq, Qaani had visited Lebanon to have discussions with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, the report said. In Baghdad, he held discussions with Hadi al-Ameri, head of the parliamentary Fatah bloc and commander of the Badr Organization. Qani was also meeting other allies and militia leaders.

“If war breaks out between Iran and America, its repercussions cannot be contained, and Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran will all be a battleground for both sides,” Qani is reported to have said.

Meanwhile, other reports said Trump has sent B-52 nuclear bombers to the Persian Gulf in a warning to Iran. “These missions help bomber aircrews gain familiarity with the region’s airspace and command and control functions and allow them to integrate with the theatre’s US and partner air assets, increasing the combined force’s overall readiness,” Lieutenant General Greg Guillot, commander of the US military’s 9th Air Force, was quoted by UK’s Express as saying.

The Saudi horn turns against Pakistan: Daniel

Israel Wants Pakistan’s Nuclear Teeth Broken & Saudi Arabia Could Land The First Punch

OPED By Haider Abbas

EurAsian Times DeskNovember 25, 2020

US’ topmost ally in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has given a very conflicting message to Turkey, as well as to Qatar, for a ‘handshake’ as it organized the G20 summit. It was, in fact, quite warranted as finally the iron curtains of secrecy between KSA and Israel had to be unveiled, and there might be a ‘brewing reaction’ to it.

Hence, KSA gave into extending the ‘hand of friendship’ to Turkey and Qatar, whereas the reality is that KSA has already cost billions of USD to Turkey by its boycott of Turkish goods, and also did KSA had planned an attack on Qatar with the help of UAE and Bahrain. The ground attack was disallowed by Trump, but which, had made the then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cost his job.

KSA after playing a pivotal role in UAE and Bahrain ‘normalizing’ their relations with Israel, has finally come out in the open, as it has come to light, that KSA crown prince MBS secretly met Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Mike Pompeo, reported Israeli newspaper Haaretz on November 23, 2020.

This has put to rest all the speculations that maybe even before the US president Donald Trump walks-out, KSA would accept Israel, which perhaps, Trump wishes to carry this sobriquet as last of his achievements.

Mohamad bi Salman at the G20 Riyadh Summit

But, the possibility of working out the modalities of a war on Iran as a joint venture of the US, Israel and KSA, has surely grown. India for that matter is firmly with Israel and the US along with KSA, more particularly so, after it had to bow out of the Chabahar project from Iran.

Iran and China, and with it Pakistan, is now the other bloc. KSA denies the meeting but The Wall Street Journal on November 24, 2020, confirmed it.

The world polity is very dangerously poised and there are all signs of a world war getting to its near possibility. Turkey is pitched against Greece, UAE is lobbying against Turkey and cozying up with Greece.

Israel and India are supporting Greece. KSA has long been against Iran alongside Israel while against Turkey too, while China-Pakistan are lined-up against India, and the US is locking horns with China in the South China Sea and supporting Taiwan against China.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan has just ended after a ceasefire brokered by the Russian president Vladimir Putin on November 23, 2020, who has also refused to recognize Biden as the new president of the United States. Thus, throwing a reality, that even if Biden makes it to office, he would not be called a full president by Russia, and may be by others too.

Biden, it is quite understood by the way of his politics, is going to wreak wars, and he has particularly vowed not to supply weapons to KSA, in the wake of the allegations of the involvement of KSA crown prince MBS in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Therefore, a US withdrawal from Afghanistan or fresh deployment in Iran is getting near. But what is most intriguing is that while MBS, Netanyahu and Pompeo met, there was an attack on KSA’s biggest oil giant Aramco by Houthis rebels from Yemen, on November 23, 2020. The timing was important. The act has again thrown a big question as to how Houthis have become so technologically advanced?

Is Iran arming them as is widely considered? Or maybe any investigative journalist might unravel it that Israel is supplying it through its proxies? Or is Israel doing it and getting it claimed by Houthis with Houthis not even getting a whiff of it?

The same way Blackwater does it in Afghanistan and Deash comes to claim it. Of course, the attack has opened new avenues for Israeli Dome missile defense technology for KSA to safeguard its boundaries after it had refused to buy Russian S-400 out of pressure from the US.

There is a lot of churning in world polity as Biden will be considered weak both externally, as well as internally, and to bolster the US image a war, therefore, would be a must. While China, which has challenged US superpower status, has given an offer to KSA to change its oil payments from Petro Dollars to Petro Yuans, which KSA is very likely to spurn, as it only plays to the tunes of the US for the last 70 years.

It is also very likely since MBS’ love affair with Israel has gone public that KSA would now openly threaten Pakistan to take back its workforce, and maybe, influence the Saudi-sponsored 56-nation Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) to accept Kashmir as a part of India.

MBS may also force OIC to forsake Gilgit-Baltistan as Pakistan’s fifth province, which is the gateway of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and which the US and India want to get killed at every cost.

As for Israel, it finds Pakistan as the only Muslim state with nuclear teeth, and through KSA it wants Pakistan’s jaws broken, to the ultimate advantage of India. How China will relate to this is for the world to see.

Babylon the Great Fruitlessly Threatens the Iranian Nuclear Horn

B-52 Bombers Just Sent A Warning To Iran: Don’t Build Nuclear Weapons

Michael Peck10:38am EST

Aerospace & Defense

I cover defense issues and military technology.

USAF Boeing B-52H Stratofortress taking-off with [+]

Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Why did two U.S. B-52 bombers fly from North Dakota to the Persian Gulf last weekend?

Most likely, it was a warning to Iran: don’t build nuclear weapons and don’t attack U.S. troops.

But will Iran listen?

The two B-52H bombers belonging to the U.S. Air Force’s 5th Bomb Wing took off from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, on November 21st. They were quickly detected by aircraft spotter enthusiasts who used the aircrafts’ Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders to track their movements.

The bombers, call signs Warbird1 and Warbird 2, were tracked crossing the Atlantic, flying past Gibraltar to the Eastern Mediterranean, then passing over central Israel north of Jerusalem, according to the Aircraft Spots site on Twitter. Tracking was lost as the aircraft crossed into Jordanian airspace and then continued on to the Persian Gulf, before being re-detected on the return flight over the Atlantic west of Spain. With the Persian Gulf more than 7,000 miles from North Dakota, the non-stop flight meant the B-52s – originally designed as intercontinental bombers in the 1950s – were in the air at least 24 hours.

A press release by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which covers the Middle East, said the “short-notice, long-range mission” was intended to “deter aggression and reassure U.S. partners and allies.”

“The non-stop mission demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability to deploy combat airpower anywhere in the world on short notice and integrate into CENTCOM operations to help preserve regional stability and security,” CENTCOM said. What the bombers actually did during the mission, and what their armament was, is unclear: the CENTCOM announcement merely noted that the B-52s worked with Air Force Central Command (AFCENT) air operations centers, F-15E and F-16 warplanes, and KC-10 and KC-135 tankers.

Interestingly, the final sentence in the CENTCOM press release blandly stated that the “last U.S. long-range bomber presence in the Middle East was in early 2020.” While the Air Force periodically dispatches long-range Bomber Task Force missions as show-the-flag operations, the question is why fly heavy bombers – and fly them so publicly — on Iran’s border now?

The answer almost certainly is that the B-52s were intended as a warning to Iran. Last week, the New York Times reported that President Trump had asked his advisers for options regarding U.S. strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. Trump’s query reportedly came after the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that Iran has increased its stockpile of nuclear material in the wake of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from a multinational nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama White House. Meanwhile, on November 17, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq fired rockets that landed near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone.

It appears less than coincidental that the B-52 flew over Israel and Jordan – two key American allies in the Middle East – before continuing to the Persian Gulf and Iran’s border. “Although B-52s can be tracked online quite often, the fact that the WARBIRD 1 and 2 flights were visible on the most popular flight tracking websites seems to prove the mission was a clear show of force against Iran,” noted the Aviationist Web site.

However, the question remains: what exactly will the B-52 flights accomplish? The U.S. already maintains considerable forces near Iran’s borders, which have included Air Force F-15s based in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, one or two Navy aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, as well as Marine amphibious units and various special forces. U.S. troops also operate in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Despite all this military might, and the crippling economic effects of U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, Iran continues to expand its nuclear program and to develop other weapons, such as ballistic missiles. A few B-52s won’t change that equation, even if armed with nuclear weapons that at best would be perceived as nothing more than a colossal bluff.

Why the Saudi Arabian nuclear horn will be an ally: Daniel 7

Why the reported Israeli-Saudi meeting is such a big deal

Henry Olsen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, gives a statement in Jerusalem on Thursday. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, addresses the G-20 summit in Riyadh on Sunday. (Maya Alleruzzo/AFP, Getty Images)

The enmity between the Jewish state and the Arab Islamic world is long and deep. Israel fought four wars with its neighbors between 1948 and 1973, and has engaged in continuing conflict with many Arab states ever since. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations had participated in some of those wars, bankrolled Palestinian terrorist groups and refused to diplomatically recognize Israel. Even as Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, Saudi Arabia and its allies continued to consider peace with any Israeli government as unacceptable.

That has changed for the oldest of diplomatic reasons: self-interest. The Iranian regime views both Israel and the Sunni gulf kingdoms as illegitimate and has worked tirelessly to bring them down. Tehran also funds terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, and rebel groups such as those in Yemen, to put military pressure on Saudi Arabia and Israel. This alone brings these two together.

Iran’s attempt to bring Iraq fully under its sway particularly presents threats to the Saudis and the gulf kingdoms. Iraq shares extensive borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If Iranian-backed troops were ever stationed in the Shiite regions in southern Iraq, they could easily launch an invasion at a moment’s notice. Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which is directly south of Kuwait, holds much of the kingdom’s oil wealth and Shiite population, and the oil-rich gulf kingdoms also all border the Eastern Province. It is crucial to Saudi and the gulf kingdoms’ security that Iranian forces be kept as far away as possible.

It is against this backdrop that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon must be understood. Were Iran ever to obtain such a weapon, its ballistic missile technology would put Israel and the Arabs alike at risk of nuclear blackmail. That in turn amplifies the conventional military power of Iran and its proxies. The Islamic republic could launch invasions or incursions as it pleases, secure in the knowledge that its nuclear weapons would deter serious retaliation.

Changes in U.S. policy during the Obama administration sent shock waves into the region. Both Israel, which is believed to possess its own nuclear deterrent, and the Arab kingdoms had long relied on the United States to protect them against Iranian subversion. The Iran nuclear agreement clearly called that implicit guarantee into question. For the Israelis, it meant that they could no longer be sure that U.S. troops would be deployed to assist them in a crisis. For the gulf kingdoms, it meant they needed a firm, nuclear-armed ally whose commitment to opposing Iran was unquestioned.

The recent dramatic changes in Arab policy toward Israel make sense when viewed in this light. For Israel, an alliance with the Arab gulf powers provides military might that could be deployed on its behalf in the event of a mutual threat. It also provides, in theory, geographic proximity to Iran to launch any secret incursions that U.S. ships or bases might currently provide. For the Arabs, it ensures that a nuclear-armed power stands behind them should Iran ever obtain a weapon, and establishes a connection with Israel’s vaunted intelligence agencies. A de facto alliance would also reduce dependence on the United States and its domestic political whims, replacing U.S. mediation with direct ties between the nations’ security apparatuses. Abandoning the Palestinians in the face of such concrete advantages is, if artfully done, obviously in the security interest of the Saudis and gulf kingdoms.

The national security appointments President-elect Joe Biden announced Monday are not likely to give either side more comfort. John F. Kerry, who will serve as Biden’s climate envoy, was secretary of state when the Iranian nuclear accord was signed, and was part of the Obama administration’s not-so-subtle opposition to Netanyahu in the 2015 Israeli election. The incoming director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, signed a letter calling on the Democratic Party to revise its draft 2020 platform language on Israel to make it more vocally opposed to Netanyahu’s stated goals regarding the West Bank and Palestinian statehood.

Israel and the Arab kingdoms know that Iran means to destroy them. As writer Samuel Johnson once put it, impending death “concentrates [the] mind wonderfully.” The Biden administration is likely to find that this alliance of strange bedfellows will force its Middle East policy to look much more like the Trump administration’s than any of them currently imagine.

Khamenei plans to manipulate Biden and Obama’s plan again

Khamenei Brands Talks a Failure as Biden Plots U.S.-Iran Shift

Arsalan Shahla

November 24, 2020, 5:39 AM MST

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said past negotiations with the U.S. over sanctions had been a failure because they didn’t ensure lasting relief, in his first public comments on talks as Joe Biden’s incoming administration is expected to reengage with Tehran.

“We tried the path of removing sanctions once before and negotiated for several years, but it didn’t work,” Khamenei said. The Iranian response to sanctions imposed under President Donald Trump had rendered the penalties ineffective, he said.

Khamenei.ir

@khamenei_ir

There are two ways to tackle sanctions: 1) removing sanctions 2) nullifying & overcoming them.

We tried the 1st option, removing sanctions, by negotiating for a few years, but to no use. The 2nd option may have difficulties in the beginning but will have a favorable end.

5:12 AM · Nov 24, 2020

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Biden has indicated he’ll aim to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal that Trump exited, and European signatories to the accord — which lifted sanctions in return for caps on Iran’s nuclear program — held talks Monday on the way ahead.

Khamenei rebuked France, the U.K. and Germany for challenging Iran’s right to develop ballistic missiles while two of the nations possess nuclear weapons.

Iran ups the nuclear ante: Daniel 8

Iran enters new phase of uranium enrichment, ambassador says

24 November 2020

Iran has begun a new stage of uranium enrichment activities, the country’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna said in an interview with IRNA on 22 November. Kazem Gharibabadi said that, during the discussion of Iran at the recent meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of Directors, France, Germany and the UK – the E3 countries – “had expressed regret” over the USA’s withdrawal in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and the reimposition of economic sanctions against Iran.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent representative to international organisations in Vienna (Image: IRNA)

“They also presented a long list of criticisms and concerns about Iran’s scaling down its JCPoA commitments, calling on Iran to return to the full implementation of its obligations,” Gharibabadi said, adding that Iran had “remained fully and effectively committed” to all its obligations for one year after the US withdrew from the agreement.

The envoy then criticised the E3 for simply expressing regret over Washington’s pull-out but taking no action.

The E3 have, over the past two-and-a-half years, “failed to make good on their obligations” with regards to the lifting of sanctions and peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran, he said, adding that Tehran needs to see “the effects of the lifting of sanctions in practice”.

On the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), he said, “the Europeans know themselves that it was not an effective tool”.

“So, the Europeans as well as member states of the IAEA and its Board of Governors should be reminded of these realities, which is, of course, always being done at different levels and on different occasions,” he said.

The insertion of UF6 is the last step before the start of the enrichment process and the separation of uranium-238 from uranium-235, he said, adding that, in addition to first-generation centrifuges, a cascade of 174 new IR-2M centrifuges will be enriching uranium at Natanz nuclear facility.

“The three European countries announced their stances on the development of new machines before,” the Iranian envoy said. “In response, we have kept telling them that Iran cannot return to the commitments that it has scaled down as long as it has not reaped the benefits of the JCPoA with the lifting of sanctions.”

Gharibabadi said it is neither logical, nor practical for Iran to implement the JCPoA unilaterally and at its own cost, but he said Iran remains committed to the IAEA’s safeguards agreements.

“Even if commitments under the JCPoA and the Additional Protocol, which is being implemented thereto and on a voluntary and temporary basis, are scaled down in certain cases, safeguards agreements are still complied with,” he said. “In this special case, i.e. Iran’s injection of gas into centrifuges, the IAEA should be informed in advance as stipulated in the agency’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement,” he added.

On media reports – based on the IAEA’s verification reports – that Iran’s uranium reserves are now 12 times as much as the level permitted under the JCPoA, he said: “They are worried over this proliferation concern, as they put it,” he said. “If the US was worried about Iran’s moves, why did it pull out of the JCPoA?” Before the nuclear deal was signed in 2015, Iran possessed around 36 times as much uranium as is permitted under the JCPoA, “but it never deviated from its peaceful activities”, he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Joe Biden WILL Push Iran and Pakistan Closer Together

Will Joe Biden Push Iran and Pakistan Closer Together?

Shortly after Joe Biden’s win in the U.S. presidential election, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif traveled to Islamabad for two days of talks. Political ties between Iran and Pakistan are warm, but their relationship has grossly underperformed in the economic and security domains.

That is partly owing to Donald Trump, who withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2018 and reimposed draconian sanctions, while adding a raft of new penalties relating to terrorism and human rights. But Trump will soon be gone, and his replacement, Joe Biden, has vowed to re-enter the JCPOA.

Zarif and his Pakistani counterpart discussed ways to expand trade and economic cooperation. In theory, sanctions relief resulting from a revived JCPOA could help to realize their goals. But there is reason to doubt that Iran-Pakistan relations will significantly improve during Biden’s presidency.

First of all, it is far from guaranteed that Biden will be able to re-join the JCPOA. The current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, is a political moderate who negotiated the Iran deal from 2013-15 but is due to leave office next year. Iran’s reformers have been losing popularity, and it is likely Rouhani will be replaced by an anti-American hardliner.

Moreover, the Iran deal is now quite unpopular with Iranians, who have not seen the sort of economic benefits that they expected. And trust in the United States is low, given that Trump abrogated the JCPOA unilaterally, even though Iran was complying with its terms, and proceeded to cripple the Iranian economy amid an escalating pandemic.

There is also the risk that Trump will pile on more pressure and provoke retaliation from Iran before he leaves office. He reportedly considered a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities soon after the election. Such tactics could trigger a military confrontation, greatly complicating a U.S. return to the JCPOA.

Added to that, Trump is apparently planning a “flood” of lame-duck sanctions before January. Iran might respond by dialing up its nuclear activities in further violation of the JCPOA. Tehran started breaching the agreement in 2019 when the United States revoked oil waivers. While those steps are currently reversible, continued infringements could ruin the deal.

Even if the JCPOA does survive, resuscitating it will be a fraught and drawn-out process. Biden has vowed to pursue a follow-on agreement that addresses Iran’s ballistic missile program, use of regional proxies (such as Hezbollah), and sunsets in the original deal which see limitations on Iranian nuclear activity expire.

Any attempt to rein in Iran’s defensive capabilities by constraining its missile program or use of proxies, while addressing nuclear sunsets, may well be rejected by Tehran. Iran might also demand compensation from the United States for re-imposing sanctions, which would likely be a non-starter in Washington.

Then there is the tricky issue of the United States’ regional partners, principally Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, who were very uncomfortable with the initial nuclear deal and would surely be displeased with an attempt to revive it. Added to that, Iran will not be a priority for the Biden administration as it tries to grapple with the coronavirus health and economic crises.

On the plus side, the Democratic Party is more united behind the JCPOA than it was in 2015. Almost all of the party’s presidential candidates pledged to return to the deal. However, the Senate will likely remain in Republican hands, potentially throwing congressional obstacles in Biden’s way.

To help the next president navigate through this minefield, analysts have proposed a sequenced approach to resuscitating the agreement. The United States and Iran would gradually return to compliance with the JCPOA by 2021, when Rouhani leaves office. Then they could proceed to broader talks about missiles and regional security.

But restoring the JCPOA is no panacea. The deal only lifts ‘secondary sanctions’ that prohibit third parties from doing business with Iran. It does not remove ‘primary sanctions,’ which apply to American companies but also affect non-U.S. entities by restricting their ability to trade in dollars.

This helps explain why commerce between Iran and Pakistan remained low even after the nuclear deal was implemented. In 2015 the two countries pledged to boost trade to $5 billion by 2021, but they never got close to achieving that goal. If history is any guide, Pakistan would only see meager economic benefits from JCPOA sanctions relief.

Of course, there are other factors constraining trade, including high tariff barriers in Iran and woefully inadequate transport connectivity between the two countries. Moreover, years of economic mismanagement have left Pakistan with a chronic trade deficit. Efforts to boost exports have been further hampered by the coronavirus economic slump.

Another obstacle may come from Iran’s nemesis, Saudi Arabia, which has close economic and security ties with Pakistan and exerts considerable influence there. Saudi pressure apparently blocked the progress of a long-delayed and now-defunct gas pipeline between Pakistan and Iran. While Saudi-Pakistan ties are waning, somewhat, they remain strong.

Worse still, for Islamabad, its arch-enemy India would likely benefit more from a revival of the JCPOA than Pakistan would. Before Trump withdrew from the deal, India imported significant amounts of oil from Iran and also moved forward with gas and infrastructure deals, such as the Chabahar port project. Those deals have stalled but might be revamped.

Closer ties between India and Iran could also mitigate Tehran’s support for the Kashmir cause. In recent years, the Iranian supreme leader and other officials have been more supportive of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. But a renewal of Indian trade and investment may force Iran to moderate its tone.

The read-outs from Zarif’s meeting in Islamabad were revealing for what they did not mention. While the Pakistani statement referred to Kashmir, there was no explicit reference in the Iranian text. In previous bilateral visits, the two sides pledged to connect Chabahar with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). But there was no talk of CPEC this time.

With a revival of the JCPOA on the horizon, Iran will not want to antagonize Delhi by courting its main strategic rivals in Beijing and Islamabad. Tehran must tread carefully, as it is currently negotiating a strategic partnership with China at the same time as Chinese and Indian troops are locked in a protracted stand-off on the disputed Himalayan border.

A restoration of the JCPOA could actually inflame tensions between Pakistan and Iran. If India capitalizes on sanctions relief to re-enter the Iranian market and improve its political relations with Tehran, we may see a resurgence of old Pakistani fears that India is using Iran as a launch-pad for intelligence operations inside Pakistan.

Those fears were seemingly confirmed in 2016 when alleged spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan after entering the country via Iran. And, since then, Pakistani concerns about Indian covert operations have only increased. The government recently issued a dossier detailing Delhi’s apparent links to various terrorist groups.

In this feverish environment, sparks could fly on the Iran-Pakistan border. Both countries have long accused the other of harboring militant groups. Terror attacks have sometimes led to cross-border shelling and could result in further violence if Islamabad sees an Indian hand in Iran-based terrorist activity.

Afghanistan is another possible flashpoint. The two countries were on opposing sides in the 1990s, when Pakistan backed the Afghan Taliban and Tehran supported their adversaries, the Northern Alliance. Since then, Iran has cultivated closer ties to the Taliban, while cooperating with Pakistan on the peace process.

But they are not entirely on the same page. Iran is more eager than Pakistan to see a broad, inclusive government in Kabul that is not monopolized by the Taliban. Indeed, Tehran opposed the peace settlement signed in Doha in February 2020 as it excluded the Afghan government.

However, Pakistan and Iran might collaborate more closely if Biden pursues a regional security dialogue as part of his follow-on agreement to the JCPOA. Because Islamabad has good political relations with both Tehran and Riyadh, it has helped mediate between the two rivals to defuse regional crises in recent years and could do so again.

But, while the Biden era might see a modest improvement in Iran-Pakistan ties, major progress is unlikely.

Rupert Stone is a freelance journalist working on issues related to South Asia and the Middle East. He has written for various publications, including Newsweek, VICE News, Al Jazeera, and The Independent.

Image: Reuters.

Iran pins Biden into a corner: Daniel 8

Iran: We Will Not Re-Negotiate the Nuclear Deal Again

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center – Iran Desk,   November 22, 2020

Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

• In Iran’s domestic arena, six months before the Iranian presidential elections, the U.S. presidential election re-ignited the controversy between proponents and opponents of dialogue with the United States. President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif, and other proponents of dialogue with the United States are facing fierce fire from the conservative camp that is backed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, who dismisses the U.S. election results and has continued to preach his Economic Resistance Doctrine.

• Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, declared that Iran would not be willing to make changes to the nuclear deal. “The agreement belongs to the past and is not open for discussion again … The United States violated UN Resolution 2231, withdrew from the nuclear agreement, caused enormous damage to the Iranian people, and must compensate for it.”

• The reformist camp called on President Rouhani to use his influence over Khamenei to the fullest extent to urge him to agree to a move toward talks with the United States. They have called to restart negotiations if the Biden administration returns to the nuclear deal or conducts behind-the-scenes talks on the required conditions that the United States would demand from Iran to enable it to return to the agreement framework.

• The conservative camp in Iran emphasizes that there is no real difference between Biden and Trump and that Democrats are just a “prettier face” with the same policy and the same intentions that were implemented so far by the Republicans against Iran.

• The conservatives state that only if the United States fulfills a long list of conditions that Iran will impose on it would they agree to return to the negotiating table with Washington regarding the nuclear deal. However, they would by no means enter into a dialogue on other issues, including ballistic missiles, human rights, or regional issues.

The front page of the Iranian newspaper Sobhe No (Morning News), November 11, 2020, addressing President Trump: “Go to hell, Gambler!” (When Trump once stated he would like to meet with Iran’s president, the late Gen. Qassem Soleimani responded, “Mr. Trump, gambler, you have business with me, but I will tell you: go to hell!”)

The U.S. elections continue to draw the attention of the Iranian leadership and media, which reports on its front pages the election process, its disputed results, and implications. Most of the publications mocked the confusion, division, and the United States’ lack of direction. The Vatan Emrooz newspaper illustrated this in a bloody cartoon published on its front page on November 11, 2020, depicting Trump’s expected departure, which will deepen the left-right chasm within the United States.

Biden will again succumb to Iran’s lies

Iran Vows “Quick” Return To Nuclear Deal If Biden Drops Sanctions

News Desk Nov 23, 2020 @ 2:38pm

Tehran —  Iran said Wednesday that it would “automatically” return to its nuclear commitments if U.S. President-elect Joe Biden lifts sanctions imposed over the past two years by President Donald Trump. But even as it dangled the offer, Tehran kept the pressure on the U.S. and other countries by forging ahead with its nuclear program in violation of the 2015 international nuclear pact that Mr. Trump abandoned.

Tehran’s return to its commitments under the deal “can be done automatically and needs no conditions or even negotiations,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in comments published in the state-run Iran daily.

Decades old U.S.-Iranian tensions escalated after President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark nuclear agreement in 2018 and reimposed, and then reinforced, crippling sanctions.

While Mr. Trump has sought to maximize pressure on Iran and isolate it globally, Mr. Biden has proposed to offer the Islamic republic a “credible path back to diplomacy.”

Mr. Biden has said that Tehran must return to compliance with the nuclear deal, but he’s been clear that if it does, his administration would “re-enter the agreement.” The president-elect has consistently argued that the 2015 accord, “blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Zarif indicated to CBS News early this month, before Mr. Biden was projected to be the winner of the U.S. election, that Iran would prefer the former vice president emerge victorious, noting “more promising” statements from his campaign.

In the remarks published Wednesday, Zarif argued that “America is obligated to implement Resolution 2231 as a member of the United Nations and its Security Council,” pointing to the UNSC resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal.

“If it does carry out this resolution and sanctions are lifted and there are no obstacles to Iran’s economic activities, then Iran will carry out” its obligations under the deal, he said.

Iran, which denies it is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, has since May 2019, after Mr. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement, gradually suspended most of its key obligations under the agreement. Tehran argues that it has merely reacted to the sanctions and the inability of the other parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – to provide Tehran with its promised economic benefits.

Zarif described Mr. Biden as a “foreign affairs veteran,” whom he has known for 30 years. Once in the White House, Mr. Biden could “lift all of these [sanctions] with three executive orders,” Zarif argued.

If the Biden administration does that, Iran’s return to nuclear commitments will be “quick,” Zarif said.

Washington’s return to the deal, however, could wait, he added.

“The next stage that will need negotiating is America’s return … which is not a priority,” he said. “The first priority is America ending its law breaking and rebelling.”

The New York Times reported on Monday that Mr. Trump asked top aides last week about the possibility of striking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Senior officials reportedly “dissuaded the president from moving ahead with a military strike,” warning him that such an attack could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency.

This October 26, 2020, satellite image from Planet Labs Inc. that has been annotated by experts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at Middlebury Institute of International Studies shows construction at Iran’s Natanz uranium-enrichment facility that experts believe may be a new, underground centrifuge assembly plant. 

Planet Labs Inc./AP

One of the sites that both the U.S. and Israel have long eyed as a potential target in any strike on Iran is the Natanz nuclear facility, where Iran has ramped up uranium enrichment beyond the parameters of the nuclear deal since 2019.

On Wednesday the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a confidential report obtained by CBS News that Iran had begun feeding uranium gas into a recently installed cascade of advanced centrifuges in a fortified underground facility at Natanz, CBS News Pamela Falk reports. 

The IR-2M centrifuges will enable Iran to spin the uranium hexafluoride gas to create nuclear material enriched to more than 4% purity — over the level permitted under the 2015 agreement but well below the 90% purity required to make a nuclear weapon.

IAEA inspectors (2nd-3rd L) and Iranian technicians disconnect the connections between twin cascades for 20% uranium production at the Natanz nuclear facility in a January 20, 2014 file photo, as Iran halted production of 20% enriched uranium, marking the coming into force of an interim deal with world powers on its disputed nuclear program.

Getty

Any use of the advanced type of centrifuge by Iran is, in itself, a violation of the nuclear pact, but the country had already been using the same machinery above ground at Natanz as part of its shirking of the agreement following Mr. Trump’s unilateral withdrawal.

IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi said that while the operation of the 174 centrifuges was taking place in a new area of Natanz, it would not lead to an overall increase in the output of enriched uranium.

Babylon the Great’s Power Eroding in Face-Off with Iranian Resistance

US Power Eroding in Face-Off with Iranian Resistance: IRGC Chief – Politics news – Tasnim News Agency

Tasnim News Agency

In a meeting of IRGC commander in Tehran on Sunday, Major General Hossein Salami said the US government is not known as a superpower anymore, as it is “aging” and its power has been depleted.

Like a person on a diet and suffering from osteoporosis, the US has been shattered from inside and Washington’s external influence has also dwindled and its range of operation has been restricted, the commander added.

Highlighting the major economic problems that have plagued the US and the waning American military power, General Salami said the “robust eroding resistance” from Iran over the past four decades has pulled the US out of its strategic base, grappled with it, and defeated Americans several times.

The undeniable fact is that the US, as the symbol of Western power, is experiencing a downfall, he said.

In comments in November 2018, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei highlighted the diminishing influence of the US government in all areas of power, saying Washington has even discredited “liberal democracy” which is known as the basis of Western civilization.

There is a consensus among major international experts that the US power is dwindling in all areas, the Leader underscored, adding that, conversely, the Iranian nation is moving forward and has a bright future.

Ayatollah Khamenei also branded the US government as the loser of confrontation with the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years, saying the fact in confrontation between the US and Iran is that “the victorious side in this challenge has been the Islamic Republic of Iran and the loser has been the US.”