Trump’s Anti-Iran Gun; Empty or Loaded?

Jalal Khoshchehreh
ParsiPolicy -  

Analysts remain divided on US President Donald Trump’s move to activate the snapback mechanism; some believe it is just an un-loaded firearm. Others say it an adventurous act motivated by hegemonic political structure of a country, which is considered the only super-power of the world. These two viewpoints forecast different impacts of escalating tensions between Tehran and Washington in the wake of upcoming US Presidential Election in November.


It is not still possible to make a clear and firm prediction about the future of Iran-US growing tensions. The reason can be the tactic maneuvers of the both sides along with some other factors regarding their condition. However, what is clear is that Washington, in trying to make Tehran to bow to its demands, is not constrained to existing legal procedures and international rules.  “Will to power” is still on the agenda for Trump’s administration. Critics of Trump’s policies, while analyzing the reasons behind his efforts before the November vote, are concerned about consequences of collapse of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, warning that emerging uncontrollable condition would be a serious threat to the global security.


Ignoring the legal procedures and inefficiency of international agreements means discrediting the institutions that are responsible to maintain peace in the international community.


Trump’s Unilateral Policies

In viewpoint of opponents of Trump’s unilateral policies, the outcome of what Washington is following to impose its will on Tehran, will be nothing but instability as well as intensifying mistrust in a world full of conflicting interests.


Some other believe that Trump has missed the opportunity to implement his anti-Iran policies and now he is just pointing an unloaded gun at Iran; Trump administration has made every possible effort to pressure Tehran to yield to Washington’s demands in last two years. In fact, nothing will change for Iran after activation of snapback mechanism by US.


Thus, the unilateral statement of triggering the snapback mechanism is considered as a theatrical move to increase pressure against Tehran in hope of provocation to help Washington reach its aims. This outlook maintains a more hopeful perspective about Trump’s failure to achieve his goals ahead of the US Presidential Election and regards the opposition of international community and part of US power structure against his policies as a proof.


Both viewpoints, however, share that Trump and his adventurous team can be unpredictable and foment what would be the outcome of their pragmatic approach. Trump’s persistence on restoring six anti-Iran sanction resolutions that all were annulled by the UN Security Council resolution 2231, is a warning in this regard that Washington particularly seeks revival of resolution 1929, which is the most important among others.


The challenge of America’s polarized society

The resolution has called Iran "a threat to international peace and security under the Chapter VII of the UN Charter."  According to this resolution all countries had to inspect Iranian or Iran-related ships and planes and submit their reports to the committee formed by the UN secretary general.


The majority of UNSC member states and the international community have expressed their opposition with US statement of activating the snapback mechanism. Trump administration, however, has condemned the international community and wants to re-impose the sanctions unilaterally. Although the sanctions are already so extensive that restoring the resolutions may not have considerable effect, but measures like inspecting Iranian marine or aerial routs may prove provocative enough to force Tehran’s reaction.


However, that will not be an easy task for Washington. America’s polarized society, death of Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, active presence of election rivals, UNSC unified opposition against Trump’s policy, and finally Tehran’s patience against Washington’s provocative moves are the most important obstacles in front of Trump. It will become clear in near future whether the firearm Trump is pointing at Iran is loaded or not.   


Jalal Khoshchehreh is an Iranian economist and former lawmaker.


* This op-ed was originally published in Farsi at