United States President Donald Trump will find it difficult, if not impossible, to force Iran to renegotiate its nuclear agreement with six world powers, despite warning signs that Iran continues to flout its international obligations.
Tehran’s provocative test of another ballistic missile last week has prompted the Trump administration into imposing new economic sanctions against Iran.
It has also strengthened the already hardline stance against Iran among key members of the new administration, including Mr Trump.
Overnight Mr Trump tweeted, “Iran, #1 in terror”, and questioned how the 2015 agreement was ever signed.
But even the White House has acknowledged the latest missile test was not strictly a violation of the nuclear pact. And analysts say it will take more than the US to rewrite the deal.
“It’s a multilateral agreement, it’s not a bilateral agreement”, Dr Roger Shanahan from Australia’s Lowy Institute said.
“So, I don’t think there’s really going to be much substantively done about the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
“There might be some changes around the fringes of making a stricter checking regime, but I don’t think substantively it’s going to be impacted on.”
Nevertheless, Mr Trump’s words show, at the very least, a shift in the US towards a much more strident tone against Iran, which could mean trouble ahead.
“I think what we’ve seen from President Trump is just a further indication of at least the rhetoric that they’re going to adopt against Iran, in the near future,” Dr Shanahan said.
He cited the stance of the new US Defence Secretary James Mattis and the National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom in recent days have accused Iran of “state-sponsored terrorism”.
“Since the Obama administration agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran in 2015, Iran’s belligerent and lawless behaviour has only increased,” Mr Flynn said in a statement announcing the sanctions.
“The international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behaviour.
“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.”
Iran ‘thankful to this newcomer’
The latest sanctions target 25 Iranian companies and individuals that provide support to Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.
But Dr Shanahan said the US was limited in what more it could do to rein in Iran’s military ambitions.
“I think in the short term we’ll probably just see a bit of posturing,” he said.
“You’ll see a ramping up of the rhetoric to let Iran know that there’s a different kind of view in Washington these days.
“They have to define exactly what they want to achieve. Just saying rolling back Iranian influence in the region is virtually an unachievable aim. Because it exerts influence in a range of ways, just as other countries in the region exert influence.
“I don’t think we’ll see too much action in the short term.
“We also have to understand that there’s a presidential election in Iran in May this year. Any kind of strengthening of language from Washington may help conservatives politically in Iran.”
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamanei has ridiculed Mr Trump since he took office.
“We are thankful to this newcomer,” he said in a speech to military leaders in Tehran.
“He has proven what we have been saying for more than 30 years. We would always speak about the political, economic, moral, and social corruption in the US administration. This man revealed it during the election campaign, and since then.
Source: ABC News