Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 07, 2019

As 'Maximum Pressure' Fails To Move Iran Dirty Tricks Become More Likely

What's up with Jared Kushner's great Middle East peace plan? It seems to be as much alive as that famous parrot.

The other big Middle East project the Trump administration launched intended to achieve a new nuclear deal with Iran. That project isn't doing well either.

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 20:29 UTC · May 8, 2019
Today marks one year since President @realDonaldTrump made the historic decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal and embark on a bold new strategy to counter #Iran. Our maximum pressure campaign has already achieved historic success.
Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 19:48 UTC · Jun 19, 2019
We’ve imposed the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime. Our pressure is working. We'll continue this line of effort to convince Iran not to move forward with their nuclear program, development of missiles, & the other malign activities they've been engaged in globally.

The proof of the 'historic success' of the ever working 'maximum pressure' is this:

Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 21:04 UTC · Jul 1, 2019
Iran's regime has taken new steps to advance its nuclear ambitions. Once again, the regime uses its nuclear program to extort the international community and threaten regional security. The world’s top sponsor of terrorism can never be allowed to enrich uranium at any level.
Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 18:28 UTC · Sep 6, 2019
Iran announced it will violate all limits on nuclear research and development. The fact that Iran retains massive uranium enrichment capacity reveals a core weakness of the Iran deal.
Secretary Pompeo @SecPompeo - 12:19 UTC · Nov 7, 2019
Iran’s plans to increase its nuclear activity at Fordow raise concerns that Iran is positioning itself for a rapid nuclear breakout. It is now time for all nations to reject its nuclear extortion and increase pressure.

Today Iran started to feed Uranium hexafluoride into some 700 new centrifuges. They will increase its stockpile of enriched Uranium.

As the maximum pressure does not create the desired results the U.S., or some other country, tried to use an outrageous provocation:

The European Union and United States expressed concern on Thursday at Iran’s holding of an inspector from the U.N. nuclear watchdog last week, with the U.S. envoy to the agency calling it an “outrageous provocation” that must have consequences.
Iran confirmed that it prevented the inspector from gaining access to its main uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz. Its envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency told reporters that it was because she tested positive for traces of explosives but then no longer did after going to the toilet while waiting for a further search, which prompted further investigation.

Nice try. Good that it did not work. That inspector will never again work in Iran.

Iran is fully within its rights when it de-designates certain IAEA inspectors. The guidelines for Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements (pdf) with the IAEA, which apply to the CSA Iran signed, stipulate:


9. The Agreement should provide that the State shall take the necessary steps to ensure that Agency inspectors can effectively discharge their functions under the Agreement. The Agency shall secure the consent of the State to the designation of Agency inspectors to that State. If the State, either upon proposal of a designation or at any other time after a designation has been made, objects to the designation, the Agency shall propose to the State an alternative designation or designations.

There are some 160 IAEA inspectors designated for Iran. It will be easy to find a replacement for the one that had to leave.

It is quite sensible that Iran has extensive access controls at its facilities for arriving IAEA inspectors. Many of these inspectors are likely spies and some may have nefarious intent. Even a tiny bit of explosives could create some critical damage to the control systems at Natanz. Spreading some tiny amount of highly enriched Uranium in an Iranian facility would be another simple trick to create some rhetorical uproar at the IAEA.

Secretary Pompous is Trump's point man for the Iran issue. He has failed to achieve the declared aim and has little to no credibility left. He will soon leave his position to run for the Senate to then use that position as a jump board for a presidential candidacy in the 2024 election. Some evangelicals would probably vote for him, but I do not see how he would get much traction beyond that group.

As the 'maximum pressure' campaign fails to achieve its objective we will now probably see a phase of more dirty tricks from the CIA and Mossad side. In mid 2017 the CIA, then under Pompous, created an Iran taskforce of which so far was little heard:

Iran has been one of the hardest targets for the C.I.A. The agency has extremely limited access to the country — no American embassy is open to provide diplomatic cover — and Iran’s intelligence services have spent nearly four decades trying to counter American espionage and covert operations.

The challenge to start carrying out President Trump’s views falls to Mr. D’Andrea, a chain-smoking convert to Islam, who comes with an outsize reputation and the track record to back it up: Perhaps no single C.I.A. official is more responsible for weakening Al Qaeda.

Two and a half year must have been sufficient time to prepare for some rather large operations. Over the next few months we will likely hear of them.

Posted by b on November 7, 2019 at 18:44 UTC | Permalink

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Walter #84

Thank you.
Not sure that story of USA losing reprocessing ability would be true. One of the links I referenced earlier reports that an Australian system of laser enrichment is being prototyped and developed IN the USA with other nations participating. But that is 'enrichment'. Perhaps 'processing' in the context of the report is the messier task of primary separation and that is carried out elsewhere.

and Walter #97

Assuming that Iran does get attacked, bombed, and assuming that the response does what it reasonably may - eg Saud and Is get wasted and the US fleet sinks and so forth - assuming all that, then who can stop the least two parties will have domestic imperatives to use them, eh?


Agreed, that is the world's biggest problem/nightmare. And with both wearing their chabad fedoras and engaging in armageddon dreaming, we are in BIG trouble. Meanwhile Israel remains in democracy limbo with no formalised government!

It will take a mighty clever and emotionally intelligent intervention by our planetary envoys to halt this lunacy.

Every nation needs to stand up against this suicidal ignorance.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 8 2019 21:19 utc | 101

karlof1 #42

Attacks on vessels in the Red Sea must be having a serious impact on maritime insurance. Much more so that in the Persian Gulf. With Iran declaring the Red Sea unsafe there will a big increase in demands to de-escalate the tensions. Not sure what impact, if any, this might have on IUSA hell bent on madness and perpetual ratcheting up of tension.

This is Trumps modus operandi, and Israel: persist in increasing pressure and so on. It may work elsewhere but Iran seems so immune to this idiocy that I am amazed. I guess they are not going to be bullied by anyone ever again and can play the long game.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Nov 8 2019 21:52 utc | 102

uncle tungsten @102--

Iran's culture and associated civilization are as deep as any in humanity. I worked with numerous Iranian students and they are as intelligent as they're proud of who they are. And Iran's human capital is where IMO the planners within the Outlaw US Empire erred while Khamenei promotes his people constantly as he well knows that's the source of Iran's strength and resilience. As with Russia, the sanctions have only made the Iranian nation stronger, although it's true some have been damaged by them. The big mistake was siccing Saddam on Iran to try and kill the Iranian Revolution in its infancy, but the Iraqi forces weren't able to get anywhere. IMO, that galvanized several generations of Iranians and works as an excellent reminder of what's been attempted and overcome already. The situation's become a Mexican standoff--Trump can't go any further but can't give-in while the Iranians will continue their defiance and make good on their promises if attacked in any manner. As with the Empire's position in Syria, the long game will eventually see the Empire retreat, although as I've shown it could do so while saving face, even declare a victory of sorts, but that would require non-brain dead leadership.

Posted by: karlof1 | Nov 8 2019 22:20 utc | 103

@4 Brendan "Since the USA pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, it's null and void, so Iran has no obligation to stick to it."

Not strictly true.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties says:
a) Treaties must be freely entered into
b) Treaty provisions must be carried out in good faith
c) A party to a treaty can not use its domestic law to avoid its obligations
d) If one party is in material breach of a treaty then other parties may suspend their own obligations OR withdraw from the treaty

The IAEA consistently found Iran to be fully compliant with their obligations under the JCPOA, which is why Trump had to restort to refusing to verify Iranian compliance to Congress as a means of snapping back sanctions i.e. he invoked US domestic law to justify his breach of the agreement which - obviously - the Vienna Convention says he can not do.

So the material breach is from the USA, not Iran.

The Vienna Conventions therefore gives the Iranians the option to ignore the breach, to suspend their own compliance, or to declare the JCPOA to be now null and void.

They began by ignoring Trump and demanding that the Europeans live up to the agreement.
They have now given up on that and are suspending their own obligations under the JCPOA.

But the Iranians have *not* repudiated the JCPOA, so if the USA goes back to carrying out their obligations in good faith then the Iranians will do likewise.

Or, in short: there is a very real difference between suspension and repudiation. The JCPOA is not "null and void", rather, two parties to the agreement have "suspended" their obligations.

One of those parties (Iran) is within its rights to suspend its obligation.
One of those parties (USA) is acting like a pig-headed arrogant s**t.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Nov 9 2019 3:39 utc | 104

Yeah, Right
Snap back occurs on a 5 to 3 vote of the eight signatories and none has veto power. Iran, Russia and China vs US, Germany, France, UK plus EU. Germany, France and UK effectively get a second vote as they are the main countries of the EU. All three have now said Iran is in beach of its commitments. Perhaps those statements were just to keep the US off their backs, but I would not be relying on any of then to vote against snapback.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 9 2019 4:09 utc | 105

@ Peter AU1 / About getting members to vote the right way, one does recall the method.


Yeah. Bringing the Client-Administrators of the European Satrapies to's easy as pie!

"Bolton continued, according to Bustani’s recollections: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you.”

There was a pause.

“We know where your kids live. You have two sons in New York.” "

Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows"...

Posted by: Walter | Nov 9 2019 15:02 utc | 106

...and there's always the Hale Boggs/Walter Reuther (and 911) method...and suicide.

Posted by: Walter | Nov 9 2019 15:04 utc | 107

@105 PeterAU1 "Snap back occurs on a 5 to 3 vote of the eight signatories and none has veto power."

You are talking about UN Sanctions, Peter?

One would hope that the professional foreign policy advisors in the UK, France and Germany put across to their political masters how unbelievably dangerous it would be for them to vote for the reimposition of those UN sanctions.

This goes well beyond the immediate issue of dealing with Iran's (supposed) nuclear ambitions.

The very post-ww2 "rules-based order" is anchored on the willingness of member states to live up to their Article 25 commitment to carry out "decisions" of the UN Security Council. That commitment is the very bedrock of that "rules-based order".

Snapping back UN sanctions on Iran because it is responding (as it is entitled to do) to a manifest breach of the JCPOA by the USA is a very dangerous game.

Question: what happens if the Russians and the Chinese openly repudiate those UN sanctions, Article 25 be damned?
Answer: the entire "rules-based order" falls apart, the UN is gutted of all authority, and the UN Security Council may as well pack up and go home.

Is pandering to Donald Trump really worth the risk of returning to the world that existed in 1939?

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Nov 10 2019 1:09 utc | 108

Yeah, Right | Nov 10 2019 1:09 utc | 108:

the entire "rules-based order" falls apart, the UN is gutted of all authority

"Rules-based order" is Western lingo for the supremacy of the Anglo-Zionist Empire over UN authority. Thus, your shock that UN may be "gutted of all authority" is surprising.

Hasn't the Empire already demonstrated a supremacist mindset by organizing a proxy war against a sovereign, UN-recognized state and now occupying oil fields of that sovereign state?

Venezuela: Did the UN authorize seizure of Venezuelan assets?

Russian national Yulia Skripal: Did UN authorize her kidnapping?

And the 18-year occupation of Afghanistan? Rendition and torture? Were these authorized by UN?

UN-authorized No-Fly Zone (NFZ) in Libya. Nobel-prize wining Obama turned it into a bombing campaign.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 10 2019 5:42 utc | 109

@ Jackrabbit with comment # 109

Nicely stated....thanks for the reality check on the High Court of Empire

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 10 2019 6:15 utc | 110

Yeah, Right 108

It wasn't that long ago that the west termed it rule of law. Perhaps since the start of the war of terror 'rule of law' has been changed to 'rules based order'.

From memory, I think the sanctions are always standing, and each time they vote, its to not reinstate the sanctions for the period until next vote. If this is the case, them I am not sure what happens if one or more abstains.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Nov 10 2019 6:30 utc | 111

@Walter #53 , @Yeah, Right #104, Yes technically the JCPOA is still in operation but it's effectively dead. The agreement itself allows Iran to go back on its commitments if the other side does the same:

"Dispute Resolution Mechanism • If Iran believed that any or all of the E3/EU+3 were not meeting their commitments under this JCPOA, Iran could refer the issue to the Joint Commission for resolution;
If the issue has still not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complaining participant, and if the complaining participant deems the issue to constitute significant nonperformance, then that participant could treat the unresolved issue as grounds to cease performing its commitments under this JCPOA in whole or in part and / or notify the UN Security Council that it believes the issue constitutes significant non-performance."

Since Trump has shown so sign of honouring the agreement (by lifting sanctions against Iran) and the Democrats are not backing any candidate capable of defeating him, there's little hope of saving the JCPOA.

Posted by: Brendan | Nov 10 2019 9:30 utc | 112

Peter AU 1@111: The reason for the change in nomenclature to "rules based order" from "rule of laws, not of men" or "rule of international law" is to imply the we do follow some sort of rules, since we clearly do not follow international laws, or respect international order; i.e. it is to suggest that Uncle Sugar is not just thrashing around in pursuit of self-interest, which of course we are.

It borders on cliche here - as others have mentioned WRT the USSR - that you don't know it's true until the government denies it. A common situation these days really.

The only real ambiguity is over who "we" is since it clearly is not the US public. If you are not US-ian, it's not such a good sell to say "look, we want to use you to feather our own nest, what do you say?" Like a fading video star, we cling to the reputation we used to have and claim to respect our fans we used to have.

I mean, even if the current rulers of Uncle Sugar got all they wanted, would that mean peace? No, they want war, they want victims, that's who they are. Bullies got to bully. Exploiters got to exploit somebody or they can't think why to get up in the morning.

In other words, it's verbal PR fig-leaf for our embarassed vassals to hide behind while obeying or slurping up spoils.

Posted by: Bemildred | Nov 10 2019 11:53 utc | 113

Willy Sutton the bank-robber followed his rule-based order and robbed banks - and that was his defense too...he explained - "that's where they keep the money."

The State took another view, and claimed that Law was superior to Rules.

That Good Man, Willy, has changed places with the State? So it seems, since they take what they want.

Yes, the RBO terminology is a rhetorical agent, sounds nice, meaning is do what you wish.

Agree that the JCPOA is in practice, moot. This, however, may resurface in Court after the Crises. Such from the past does come to haunt the criminal, occasionally - but it's usually because of Political circumstances the criminal did not expect.

Posted by: Walter | Nov 10 2019 12:23 utc | 114

@109 Jackrabbit: "Thus, your shock that UN may be "gutted of all authority" is surprising."

I'm obviously not explaining myself well. Since 1991 the USA has viewed the UN Security Council as a very convenient cut-out to use as it sees fit.

After all, the USA does not need to fear the Security Council because, well, "veto".

It does not need to fear China in the UNSC because the Chinese rarely use their veto, and never, ever use it as the lone-one-out. Russia does but, again, only rarely. Certainly with nothing like the frequency that the USSR used to.

As for the minnows, well, don't make me laugh.

But the utility of the UNSC to the USA resides entirely on the willingness of member states not to openly revolt against a "decision" of the UN Security Council.

Think about it: The USA makes most of the "decisions" of the UNSC, which means that the USA (and its minions) have the most invested in ensuring that those "decisions" are observed by all (even if not necessarily respected by all).

It is a fined-balanced act.
It requires finesse.

The snapback of these sanctions don't require a "decision" of the Security Council i.e. the decision was actually made years ago, and the JCPOA merely suspends them for as long as Iran remains in compliance with the terms of that JCPOA.

But that is a two-edged sword.

Making them "snap-back" because the Iranians are reacting quite reasonably to a manifest breach by the USA might make the Americans chuckle with mirth over their own cleverness, but it would (or should) horrify the UK, France and Germany.

The sheer absurdity of snapping-back sanctions under that circumstance really does risk some big, powerful countries throwing their hands in the air and calling a pox on this.

That should horrify the "Anglo-Zionist Empire" because they are the main beneficiaries of the UN Security Council's authority.

How can you possibly look at the events of the last 20 years and think that the authority of the UN Security Council stands in the way of that "Empire"?

It does not. It is a major tool in that "Empire's" tool-kit, and they are running a serious risk of breaking it.

This has happened before: the League of Nations was a chummy club for Empires between the world wars until, that is, Japan got sick of being treated like a lapdog and just stormed out of the building.

I'll give you three guesses what that lead to.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Nov 11 2019 10:15 utc | 115

Yeah, Right @115

Thanks for the explanation.

Very sensible. However, I think they'll throw caution to win.

'Snap-back' was created for a purpose. And the circumstances for its use are now present. And the Syrian oil grab indicates that the gloves are off.

Note: I always said that JCPOA was 'fake' and was only a means of buying time because the Syrian conflict lasted longer than expected. But MSM has relentlessly pushed the "Iranian peace deal" as an Obama accomplishment for peace in an attempt to highlight his bogus credentials and constructed persona.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Nov 11 2019 15:22 utc | 116

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