Following the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the third multilateral agreement the current US administration of President Donald Trump has withdrawn from.
The administration has also put in jeopardy other multilateral arrangements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the global trade system, and parts of the United Nations system, thus inflicting considerable damage to multilateralism and the prospects for resolving disputesthrough diplomacy. The announcement on 8 May 2018 of the US withdrawal from the JCPOA and the unilateral and unlawful re-imposition of nuclear sanctions a decision opposed by majority of the American people was the culmination of a series of violations of the terms of the accord by this administration, in spite of the fact the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the sole competent international authority had repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance with its commitments under the accord. The U.S. decision was rejected by the international community and even its closest allies, including the European Union, Britain, France and Germany.
On 21 May 2018, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, in a baseless and insulting statement, issued a number of demands of and threats against Iran in brazen contravention of international law, well-established international norms, and civilized behavior. His statement reflected a desperate reaction by the US administration to the overwhelming opposition of the international community to the persistent efforts by the White House to kill the JCPOA, and the ensuing Washington’s isolation.
Pompeo, in his statement, attempted to justify the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA and divert international public opinion from the unlawful behavior of the United States and its outright violation of UN Security Council resolution 22311; a resolution drafted and proposed by the US itself and adopted unanimously by the Council. Mr. Pompeo’s 12 preconditions for Iran to follow are especially preposterous as the US administration itself is increasingly isolated internationally due to its effort to undermine diplomacy and multilateralism. It comes as no surprise that the statement and the one made by the US president on Iran were either ignored or received negatively by the international community, including by friends and allies of the United States. Only a small handful of US client states in our region welcomed it.
I seriously doubt that had the US Secretary of State even had a slight knowledge of Iran’s history and culture and the Iranian people’s struggle for independence and freedom, and had he known that Iran’s political system—in contrast to those of the American allies in the region—is based on a popular revolution and the people’s will, would he have delivered such an outlandish statement.
He should, however, know that ending foreign intervention in Iran’s domestic affairs, which culminated in the 25-year period following the US-orchestrated coup in 1953, had always been one of the Iranian people’s main demands since well before the Islamic Revolution. He should also be aware that in the past 40 years the Iranian people have heroically resisted and foiled aggressions and pressures by the US, including its coup attempts, military interventions, support of the aggressor in an eight- year war, imposition of unilateral, extraterritorial and even multilateral sanctions, and even going as far as shooting down an Iranian passenger plane in the Persian Gulf in 1987.
The Islamic Republic of Iran derives its strength and stability from the brave and peace-loving Iranian people; a people who, while seeking constructive interaction with the world on the basis of mutual respect, are ready to resist bullying and extortions and defend in unison their country’s independence and honor.
History bears testimony to the fact those who staged aggression against this age-old land, such as Iraqi Saddam Hussein and his supporters, all met an ignominious fate, while Iran proudly and vibrantly continued its path towards a better, brighter future.
It is regrettable that in the past one-and-a-half years, US foreign policy- if we can call it that including its policy towards Iran has been predicated on flawed assumptions and illusions – if not actual delusions. The US President and his Secretary of State have persistently made baseless and provocative allegations against Iran that constitute blatant intervention in Iran’s domestic affairs, unlawful threats against a UN member state and violations of UN international obligations under the UN Charter, the 1955 Treaty and the 1981 Algiers Accord. While rejecting these fictitious allegations, I would like to draw the attention of U.S. policymakers to some aspects of their nation’s current foreign policy that are detrimental to the entire international community:
Impulsive and illogical decisions and behavior of the US President and efforts by his subordinates to find some justification to persuade a reluctant domestic and foreign audience have already surfaced as the main feature of the decision-making process in Washington over the past 17 months. This process, coupled with ill-conceived and hasty explanations to justify outcomes lead to contradictory statements and actions. As an example, in his role as CIA Director, Mike Pompeo once in a Congressional hearing emphatically stated: “Iran has not violated its commitments. Later and following the US President’s decision to withdraw from the accord, now Secretary of State Pompeo in his statement on May 21 claimed “Iran violated its commitments.”
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some aspects of US foreign policy have been put up for auction far beyond the routine lobbying practices. It is, for instance, unprecedented that a US president should choose the very country he had called “fanatic and a supporter of terrorism during his election campaign as the destination for his first foreign visit as president or to publicly make aspects of his foreign policy positions contingent on the purchase by one or another country of arms and other items from the United States. It has also been reported that in some other cases, mostly illegitimate financial interests have been the main basis for the formulation of mind-bogglingly ill-conceived US policy positions.
Contempt for international law and attempts to undermine the rule of law in international relations have been among the main features of the current administration’s foreign policy. To the extent, according to media reports, that the US negotiators in the G7 Summit were even insisting on deleting the phrase “our commitment to promote the rules-based international order.” This destructive approach began by showing contempt for the fundamental principle of pacta sunt servanda, which is arguably the oldest principle of international law.
The US withdrawal from some international agreements and undermining others, coupled with efforts to weaken international organizations, are examples of destructive moves so far by the US government, which have unfortunately darkened the outlook for the international order. Obviously, the continuation of such policies can endanger the stability of the international community, turning the U.S. into a rogue state and an international outlaw.
Predicating decisions on illusions is another aspect of this administration’s foreign policy. This has been especially evident with respect to West Asia. The illegal and provocative decision regarding al-Quds al-Sharif, blind support for the cruel atrocities committed by the Zionist regime against Gazans, and aerial and missile attacks against Syria are some of the more brazen aspects of such an unprincipled foreign policy.
The statement made by Pompeo on May 21 was the culmination of a delusional US approach to our region. Ironically, the U.S. Secretary of State tried to set preconditions for negotiations and agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran at a time when the international community is doubtful about the possibility or utility of negotiation or agreement with the US on any issue.
How can the US government expect to be viewed or treated as a reliable party to another round of serious negotiations following its unilateral and unwarranted withdrawal from an agreement which was the result of hundreds of hours of arduous bilateral and multilateral negotiations, in which the highest-ranking US foreign affairs official participated, submitted to the Security Council by the US and adopted unanimously as an international commitment under Article 25 of the Charter?
Recent statements and actions by the U.S. president, including reneging on his agreement with the G7 while in the air flying back from the summit, are other examples of his erratic behavior.
His remarks immediately following his meeting with the leader of the DPRK regarding his possible change of mind in 6 months are indicative of what the world is facing—an irrational and dangerous US administration.
The US government must respect Iran’s independence and national sovereignty and assure Iran that it will end its intervention in Iran’s domestic affairs in accordance with international law in general, and the 1981 Algiers Accord in particular.
* Dr Mohammad Javad Zarif is a career diplomat and the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister.