Iran is convinced the US will pull out of the nuclear agreement. Israeli analysts do not disagree.
By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News
Iranian officials are saying President Donald Trump’s dismissal of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and his replacement by Mike Pompeo is proof that Washington is planning to quit the nuclear deal between Tehran and the Six World Powers.
In comments carried by Iranian state media, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said, “The United States is determined to leave the nuclear deal, and changes at the State Department were made with that goal in mind – or at least it was one of the reasons.”
Araqchi went on to warn, “If the US quits the nuclear deal, we will also quit it. We have told the Europeans that if they can’t keep the US in the deal, Iran will also leave it.”
Trump himself acknowledged that the reason behind Tillerson’s dismissal was his support for the 2015 nuclear deal. The president’s choice for replacement, Mike Pompeo, holds views on the nuclear deal that are much closer to those of Trump. Pompeo has spoken out against the agreement as a congressman as well as during his service as CIA chief.
In January, Trump extended a waiver on nuclear sanctions that were imposed on Iran but made clear that it was the last time he would do so. He also ordered European allies and Congress to work with him to fix “the disastrous flaws,” saying that otherwise, Washington will withdraw in May.
Former AIPAC-Israel Director Lenny Ben David told World Israel News (WIN), “Pompeo is in line with the president on Iran, and his policy will definitely be more aggressive. Pompeo is also on the same page on the issue with Israeli security officials. Tillerson was from the petroleum industry, with no ties or particular understanding of the issues. Most important is that he did not seem to understand the diplomatic tools that were available to him. For example, he did not take calls from ambassadors, including US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.”
Dr. Gerald Steinberg, an expert in US-Israel relations from Bar Ilan University, told WIN, “Pompeo has no illusions on Iran. He is not trigger happy, but he believes he can undo some of the damage done by the Iran deal.”
Both Ben David and Steinberg are upbeat about the Pompeo appointment. “Pompeo has a proven pro-Israel track record in congress, and the CIA. The bottom line is that he fully understands our defense requirements,” Ben-David said.
According to Steinberg, “Pompeo has real military experience. He is a realist, and his posting could bring a positive change for the entire Middle East. He has shown deep understanding of complexities in the region, including security threats to Israel and the intricate details relating to stalled peace prospects.”
In 2015, when Pompeo was still a congressman, he stood out as an Iran hardliner. At the time, he said, “The accord would not stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and it places Israel at more risk. The theory that post-sanctions Iran will moderate is a joke – they want to annihilate Israel. Ceasing to call for the destruction of Israel should have been a condition of the Iran deal.”
Following his nomination, Pompeo said he looked forward to “rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”