Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1394, (17 - 23 May 2018)
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1394, (17 - 23 May 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Inside Washington: Acts and scenes

Followed by Thomas Gorguissian


Out of Iran deal — what’s next?

That is yet to be determined. Many words have been said, repeating and trying to describe and explain what was announced by US President Trump in his address to the nation week before last. “I don’t really have much to add to the president’s speech,” National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters in the White House briefing room. “This deal was fundamentally flawed. It does not do what it purports to do. It does not prevent Iran from developing deliverable nuclear weapons.”

Many observers mentioned with no hesitation that the president’s address “bore the imprint of Bolton.” Others raised questions about Secretary Mike Pompeo’s possible role in the coming days and weeks, especially with US European allies, to save what may be saved from the deal’s terms. Talks about more harsh sanctions started from day one, and they will need some time to become a reality.

Defence Secretary James Mattis, who had said earlier that it was in America’s interest to stay in the deal, told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee last week, “The administration’s been in place for over a year, and for over a year we’ve attempted to work with allies to address the shortcomings of it,” and added “so I think we now have the opportunity to move forward to address those shortcomings and make it more compelling.” Mattis also said “We will work with our allies and try to bring Iran back into more responsible behaviour, at the same time addressing all five of the threats that Iran constitutes: the nuclear issue which is foremost; certainly the terrorism issue that I just cited; the ballistic missile efforts they have; the cyber attacks they’ve been conducting; and then threats to international commerce.”

In that same hearing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford was reminded that he had told lawmakers last year that the deal was “the most durable means of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.” “The president has changed the policy,” General Dunford said, adding: “My job now is to adjust to that reality and make sure I’m supporting the president’s policy.”

US Embassy in Jerusalem

“There are people who are happy with the decision, there are people who are unhappy with the decision. I think it’s far too early to be measuring reactions. In the long run, we’re convinced that this decision creates an opportunity and a platform to proceed with a peace process on the basis of realities rather than fantasies, and we’re fairly optimistic that this decision will ultimately create greater stability rather than less,”

United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in a teleconference briefing last Friday on the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Ambassador Friedman, who is also part of Trump’s team headed by Jared Kushner to make “the ultimate deal” for Middle East, in that briefing to explain and justify why the Trump Administration “has taken Jerusalem off the table,” also said: “What the president saw was that the Palestinians essentially had a veto over the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, meaning that if you say we’re only going to have – we’re only going to recognise Jerusalem as the capital when the Palestinians say it’s okay, you’re empowering the leverage in a way that’s not helpful. And frankly, that card has been misplayed over many years.”

North Korea: Looking for 12 June

“Our hope is that Kim wants a strategic change, and President Trump is prepared to help,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Sunday, talking about the expected agreement between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump. “Kim understands this will have to be big and special,” Pompeo said, and added, “I think Kim appreciates the fact this is going to have to be different. . . If we can achieve an historic outcome, both sides have to come to play.” Trump announced last Thursday that the summit will be held 12 June in Singapore.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said on ABC’s This Week that North Korea’s denuclearisation is not negotiable — including non-nuclear weapons. “Denuclearisation is absolutely at the core of it and it means not just nuclear weapons,” he said, adding: “North Korea has also previously agreed… to give up its uranium reprocessing capabilities, we’ve got ballistic missiles on the table, we’ve got to look at chemical and biological weapons.” Pompeo and Bolton probably will have more to say about the Trump- Kim Summit in the coming weeks.

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