On January 13, President Trump has to act on the nuclear deal with Iran: he can waive the sanctions for 90 days; he can repeat his action of October 13, 2017 and refuse to certify that Iran is in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA—aka the P5+1 agreement); he can pull the United States out of the agreement. Intelligence analysts at a high level have said that the recent protests in Iran haven’t determined the President’s thinking about what he will do. Trump has made no secret of his opinion about the agreement—he hates it. He’s called it the worst deal ever negotiated, but can he afford to pull the US out of it? Abrogating the Iran nuclear agreement at this moment would not increase the chances of pursuing a non-military solution to the North Korean nuclear threat, and his most qualified advisers appear to lean in that direction. And regardless of what Trump decides on Iran, the other P5+1 signatories– Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany—will stick to JCPOA. The European countries long ago exempted themselves from secondary sanctions, and Russia and China won’t be affected by Trump’s sanctions except to become even closer partners in what they perceive as an alliance against “hegemonism.”
The now-waning Iran protests have put the “amen chorus” of Iran-bashers into full swing. Trump’s sometimes phone pal John Bolton screams about regime change “now”. The neo-conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) crows that the theocratic state is crackng up in Iran because some protesters chanted “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to Rouhani”. (FDD houses some of the same players who told us that the Iraqi people would greet the invading American army with “flowers and sweets” and that the Shi’ia would be America’s salvation in Iraq.)
It’s much more complicated as readers and commenters here know, and too soon to say whether a “Persian Spring” triggered by internal factors or outside “color revolution” will come to pass. For some of the most insightful and informative comments on the situation, I highly recommend SST’s own January 2nd Open Thread on Iran.