PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

Donald Trump says he’s ‘okay either way’, whether there’s war with Iran and Tehran seems to be okay  with that too, warns Pepe Escobar.

By Pepe Escobar
in Paris
Special to Consortium News

All bets are off in the geopolitical insanity stakes when we have the President of the United States (POTUS) glibly announcing he could launch a nuclear first strike to end the war in Afghanistan and wipe it “off the face of the earth” in one week. But he’d rather not, so he doesn’t have to kill 10 million people.

Apart from the fact that not even a nuclear strike would subdue the legendary fighting spirit of Afghan Pashtuns, the same warped logic – ordering a nuclear first strike as one orders a cheeseburger – could apply to Iran instead of Afghanistan.

Trump once again flip-flopped by declaring that the prospect of a potential war in the Persian Gulf “could go either way, and I’m OK either way it goes,” much to the delight of Beltway-related psychopaths who peddle the notion that Iran is begging to be bombed.

No wonder the whole Global South – not to mention the Russia-China strategic partnership – simply cannot trust anything coming from Trump’s mouth or tweets, a non-stop firefight deployed as intimidation tactics.

At least Trump’s impotence facing such a determined adversary as Iran is now clear: “It’s getting harder for me to want to make a deal with Iran.” What remains are empty clichés, such as Iran “behaving very badly” and “the number one state of terror in the world” – the marching order mantra emanating from Tel Aviv.

Even the – illegal – all-out economic war and total blockade against Tehran seems not to be enough. Trump has announced extra sanctions on China because Beijing is “accepting crude oil” from Iran. Chinese companies will simply ignore them.

Okay With ‘OK Either Way’

“OK either way” is exactly the kind of response expected by the leadership in Tehran. Prof. Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran confirmed to me that Tehran did not offer Trump a “renegotiation” of the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, in exchange for the end of sanctions: “It’s not a renegotiation. Iran offered to move forward ratification of additional protocols if Congress removes all sanctions. That would be a big win for Iran. But the US will never accept it.”

Dehghan: U.S. bases would be targeted. (Wikimedia Commons)

Marandi also confirmed “there is nothing big going on” between Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and tentative Trump administration negotiator Sen. Rand Paul: “Bolton and Pompeo remain in charge.”

The crucial fact is that Tehran rejects a new negotiation with the White House “under any circumstances,” as expressed by Hossein Dehghan, the top military adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Dehghan once again made it very clear that in case of any sort of military adventure, every single base of the U.S. Empire of Bases across Southwest Asia will be targeted.

This neatly ties in with Iran’s by now consolidated new rules of engagement, duly detailed by correspondent Elijah Magnier. We are well into “an-eye-for-an-eye” territory.

And that brings us to the alarming expansion of the sanctions dementia, represented by two Iranian ships loaded with corn stranded off the coast of southern Brazil because energy giant Petrobras, afraid of U.S. sanctions, refuses to refuel them.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a fervent Trump groupie, has turned the country into a tropical U.S. neo-colony in less than seven months. On U.S. sanctions, Bolsonaro said, “We are aligned to their policies. So we do what we have to.” Tehran for its part has threatened to cut its imports of corn, soybeans and meat from Brazil – $2 billion worth of trade a year – unless the refueling is allowed.

This is an extremely serious development. Food is not supposed to be — illegally — sanctioned by the Trump administration. Iran now has to use mostly barter to obtain food — as Tehran cannot remit through the CHIPS-SWIFT banking clearinghouse. If food supplies are also blocked that means that sooner rather than later the Strait of Hormuz may be blocked as well.

Beltway sources confirmed that the highest level of the U.S. government gave the order for Brasilia to stop this food shipment.

Tehran knows it well – as this is part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, whose goal is ultimately to starve the Iranian population to death in a harrowing game of chicken.

Chokepoint: The Strait of Hormuz. (Flickr)

How this may end is described by an ominous quote I already used in some of my previous columns, from a Goldman Sachs derivatives specialist: “If the Strait of Hormuz is closed, the price of oil will rise to a thousand dollars a barrel representing over 45 percent of global GDP, crashing the $2.5 quadrillion derivatives market and creating a world depression of unprecedented proportions.”

At least the Pentagon seems to understand that a war on Iran will collapse the world economy.

And Now for Something Completely Different

But then, last but not least, there’s the tanker war.

Dutch analyst Maarten van Mourik has noted significant discrepancies involving the UK piracy episode in Gibraltar – the origin of the tanker war. The Grace 1 tanker “was pirated by the Royal Marines in international waters. Gibraltar Straits is an international passage, like the Strait of Hormuz. There is only 3 nautical miles of territorial water around Gibraltar, and even that is disputed.”

Mourik adds, “The size of the Grace 1 ship is 300,000 MT of crude oil, it has a maximum draught of about 22.2 meters and the latest draught via AIS indicated that she was at 22.1 meters, or fully laden. Now, the port of Banyas in Syria, which is where the offshore oil port is, has a maximum draft of 15 meters. So, in no way could the Grace 1 go there, without first having to offload elsewhere. Probably a very large quantity to get within max draught limitations.”

Zarif (r.) negotiating nuclear deal with then US Secretary of State John Kerry in July, 2015. (Wikimedia Common)

That ties in with Foreign Minister Javad Zarif refusing on the record to say where Grace 1 was actually heading to, while not confirming the destination was Syria.

The tit-for-tat Iranian response, with the seizure of the Stena Impero navigating under the British flag, is now evolving into Britain calling for a “European-led maritime protection mission” in the Persian Gulf, purportedly to protect ships from Iranian “state piracy.”

Observers may be excused for mistaking it for a Monty Python sketch. Here we have the Ministry of Silly Seizures, which is exiting the EU, begging the EU to embark on a “mission” that is not the same mission of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign. And on top of it the mission should not undermine Britain’s commitment to keep the JCPOA in place.

As European nations never recede on a chance to flaunt their dwindling “power” across the Global South, Britain, Germany and France now seem bent on their “mission” to “observe maritime security in the Gulf,” in the words of French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. At least this won’t be a deployment of joint naval forces – as London insisted. Brussels diplomats confirmed the initial muscular request came from London, but then it was diluted: the EU, NATO and the U.S. should not be involved – at least not directly.

Now compare this with the phone call last week between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron, with Tehran expressing the determination to “keep all doors open” for the JCPOA. Well, certainly not open to the Monty Python sketch.

That was duly confirmed by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who said Iran will “not allow disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” while Iranian vice-president Eshaq Jahangiri rejected the notion of a “joint European task force” protecting international shipping: “These kinds of coalitions and the presence of foreigners in the region by itself creates insecurity.”

Iran has always been perfectly capable, historically, of protecting that Pentagonese Holy Grail – “freedom of navigation” – in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Tehran certainly doesn’t need former colonial powers to enforce it. It’s so easy to lose the plot; the current, alarming escalation is only taking place because of the “art of the deal” obsession on imposing an illegal, total economic war on Iran.

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times. His latest book is 2030.” Follow him on Facebook.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.

52 comments for “PEPE ESCOBAR: US and Iran Stuck on Negotiation Ground Zero

  1. Gregory Herr
    July 29, 2019 at 20:11

    Andre Vitchek has penned an appeal. He asks readers to disseminate widely.

    “Iran is standing against the mightiest nation on earth. It is facing tremendous danger; of annihilation even, if the world does not wake up fast, and rush to its rescue.
    Stunning Iranian cities are in danger, but above all, its people: proud and beautiful, creative, formed by one of the oldest and deepest cultures on earth.
    This is a reminder to the world: Iran may be bombed, devastated and injured terribly, for absolutely no reason. I repeat: there is zero rational reason for attacking Iran.
    Iran has never attacked anyone. It has done nothing bad to the United States, to the United Kingdom, or even to those countries that want to destroy it immediately: Saudi Arabia and Israel.
    Its only ‘crime’ is that it helped devastated Syria. And that it seriously stands by Palestine. And that it came to the rescue of many far away nations, like Cuba and Venezuela, when they were in awful need.
    I am trying to choose the simplest words. No need for pirouettes and intellectual exercises.

    Thousands, millions of Iranians may soon die, simply because a psychopath who is currently occupying the White House wants to humiliate his predecessor, who signed the nuclear deal. This information was leaked by his own staff. This is not about who is a bigger gangster. It is about the horrible fact that antagonizing Iran has absolutely nothing to do with Iran itself.
    Which brings the question to my mind: in what world are we really living? Could this be tolerable? Can the world just stand by, idly, and watch how one of the greatest countries on earth gets violated by aggressive, brutal forces, without any justification?
    I love Iran! I love its cinema, poetry, food. I love Teheran. And I love the Iranian people with their polite, educated flair. I love their thinkers. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them.
    You know, you were of course never told by the Western media, but Iran is a socialist country. It professes a system that could be defined as “socialism with Iranian characteristics”. Like China, Iran is one of the most ancient nations on earth, and it is perfectly capable of creating and developing its own economic and social system.
    Iran is an extremely successful nation. Despite the embargos and terrible intimidation from the West, it still sits at the threshold of the “Very high human development”, defined by UNDP; well above such darlings of the West as Ukraine, Colombia or Thailand.

    Hello – They Lied to You About Iran!
    It clearly has an internationalist spirit: it shows great solidarity with the countries that are being battered by Western imperialism, including those in Latin America.
    I have no religion. In Iran, most of the people do. They are Shi’a Muslims. So what? I do not insist that everyone thinks like me. And my Iranian friends, comrades, brothers and sisters have never insisted that I feel or think the same way as they do. They are not fanatics, and they do not make people who are not like them, feel excluded. We are different and yet so similar. We fight for a better world. We are internationalists. We respect each other. We respect others.
    Iran does not want to conquer anyone. But when its friends are attacked, it offers a helping hand. Like to Syria.

    In the past, it was colonized by the West, and its democratic government was overthrown, in 1953, simply because it wanted to use its natural resources for improving the lives of its people. The morbid dictatorship of Shah Pahlavi was installed from abroad. And then, later, again, a terrible war unleashed against Iran by Iraq, with the full and candid support of the West.”

    For full text:

  2. Abe
    July 28, 2019 at 15:46

    The current escalation is taking place because of alarming anti-Iran propaganda vomited profusely by shady pro-Israel Lobby characters like fake “nuclear expert” David Albright.

    Albright and his nearly one-man band propaganda operation, ISIS (” Institute for Science and International Security”), are busy peddling Israel’s 2018 disinformation exercise, an “atomic archive” allegedly carted off from Iran in a dramatic “Israeli intelligence” raid.

    In a recent interview, Albright drooled that “I, people in my institute spent a lot of time going through portions of the [sic] of what the Israelis seized”

    Jonathan Marshall noted Albright’s prodigious service to the pro-Israel Lobby in 2015:

    Gareth Porter debunked the “atomic archive” claims when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presented the fraud in 2018:

    Former chief United Nations weapons inspector and IAEA consultant Scott Ritter revealed Albright’s bogus “nuclear expert” claims back in 2008:

    Thanks to Albright and legions of other pro-Israel Lobby fraudsters both inside and outside the Trump administration, the US president has openly threatened to attack Iran with nuclear weapons. In his most recent article, Ritter observes:

    “Under normal circumstances, the American people could expect a rational president to walk away from any situation that needlessly invited the specter of nuclear war. That President Trump so easily invokes his powers amid critical international tensions should give us serious pause.”

  3. elmerfudzie
    July 28, 2019 at 03:10

    I’ve not been persuaded to trust, in any way, the Iranian leadership, the JCPOA, any other plan or document that purports to show nuclear compliance.

    We must consider Iran’s “Amad Plan”, shockwave generator research (circa 2003) and those previous commentaries I made concerning the Shahab-3/ Zelzal-3 missiles, capable of delivering flux compression generator bombs or FCGs. These are defined as a specific class of e-bomb or EMP bomb, developed several years after WW II ended. A barrage of Shahabs would detonate FCG’s, or similar non-nuclear EMP devises, over critical infrastructure targets such as Dimona, centers of government (Tel Aviv) and military installations (Air Force). Another plausible scenario; What’s to stop their scientists from using Radium/Beryllium, Americium 242 or Californium 252 as seed material(s)? Note: a considerable quantity of Ca 252 was seized by customs in Turkey recently. A totally new method might be underway, hidden from full view, using shock wave generation combined with these isotope(s) or some equivalent neutron source acting as “seed material” for uranium fission, surrounded by a high explosive (Octol), in a precise combination, causes critical compression and a successful nuclear implosion. A pure beryllium or Tungsten shroud covering such a devise may even drop the ninety percent enrichment requirement for making a crude fission explosion. We also must consider the latest laser separation methods to quickly extract U235 from spent U 238 and the contaminant Plutonium 240 found in spent reactor cores. There may be additional fission source material, perhaps dating back to Atoms for Peace during the days of the Shah. Decades of fast neutron activation from a small research reactor and plutonium source. So many unknowns present themselves here and there are so few assurances to prevent proliferation. Only on site inspection can allay our fears.

    In summary, without an extremely intrusive inspection regimen at each of their nuclear research faculties, Iran’s immediate neighbors will be placated. Iran’s enemies will not rest until they too have in place the technical infrastructure to manufacture atomic weapons at a moments notice.

    • Abe
      July 28, 2019 at 13:20

      Iran’s self-appointed enemy Israel has in place the technical infrastructure to manufacture atomic weapons, not to mention a hefty arsenal and delivery systems targeting capitals in Europe and MENA.

      Israel has long threatened to attack Iran at a moments notice.

      Comrade “elmerfudzie” recites the usual laundry list of Israeli and pro-Israel Lobby “fears” about Iran that “we must consider”.

      These issues were considered and comprehensively addressed in the JCPOA that “1000 percent” Israel Firster Donald Trump promptly tossed in the ashcan.

      Dimwits insist that the comprehensive US foreign policy clusterfuck is somehow all the fault of those dastardly “über-hawks” Pompeo and Bolton, but the ignored pro-Israel bona fides of Trump and Pence are no less sterling.

      Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapon-armed Israel has shrieked for nearly four decades that Iran is “months away” from a nuclear weapon.

      So we have not been persuaded to trust, in any way, the Israeli leadership, the American leadership, any other forged plan or “Israeli intelligence” produced document that purports to show nuclear non-compliance by Iran.

      So thanks for that timely li’l “summary”, comrade.

      • elmerfudzie
        July 29, 2019 at 14:09

        Abe, Israel has nothing to do with the arguments made in this commentary! I outlined specific technical concerns that are in a word, worrying. Tho I admit some of these suggestions are a bit dubious. Questions such as, did Abdul Qadeer Khan show the Iranians how to extract Am 242 before it undergoes rapid change within the reactor environs? Have we accounted for all the potential transmutations that could have occurred by extracting the plutonium in the experimental reactor given to the Shah under the Atoms for Peace program? Was this experimental reactor converted into a breeder of sorts? where U238 could be converted into Pu 242? Their scientists had over forty years to experiment with the whole science of nuclear transmutation using a fast neutron source. Again, do we really know the entire story behind the A.Q. Khan team and their smuggling of fissionable materials into Iran? For example, after the fall of the Soviet Union there were many website reports of smuggled, almost pure weapons grade materials like U235 stolen from unguarded or poorly secured facilities in Russia and former Soviet block states. One web citation showed that nuclear bomb material was discovered for sale on the Georgia black market however there have been many, many, other instances of diversions from the former CCCP and in unknown quantities.

        Keep in mind that smuggling must be coupled with an end user who has both the technical know how and financial resources to properly fabricate fissionable material and Iran fits the bill.

        Off topic but definitely within the sphere of this discussion is the nuclear proliferation issue of stolen A-weaponry. Please visit David Cameron lost three A- weapons in transit from South Africa, visit It doesn’t take any real stretch of the imagination to wonder if this unsolved diversion of atomic weaponry is tied to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent public displays of whole body trembling? Did the Bundesnachrichtendienst tell her that a extortion letter was received promising that one will go off somewhere in the EU if Germany doesn’t cough up the money? We, as the citizenry at large, are in the dark and are left to our own devises, however crudely asserted, to ponder these things.

        • Gregory Herr
          July 29, 2019 at 20:59

          Left to my own device, a functioning mind with a modest sense of contextual history and present-day geopolitical realities—I would say I am not completely in the dark in asserting that Iran (if so) would choose to develop “capabilities” as defensive or retaliatory purposes only—certainly not as madcap aggressors bent on destruction and ensuing self-destruction. I would further propose Iran has developed sufficient deterrent without nuclear weapons (provided that would-be aggressors against Iran retain a modicum of sanity), and have no need to jeopardize their position through skullduggery and nose-thumbing. They’ve been quite “inspected” and realize the reality of many “eyes and ears.”

          Blackmail and extortion are far, far more likely (almost modus operandi) aspects of the practices of you know who.

      • Abe
        July 29, 2019 at 16:34

        Comrade “elmerfudzie”, Israel has everything to do with the arguments about nuclear proliferation.

        However much it may task your imagination, it doesn’t take any real stretch to recognize that Trump administration’s recent nuclear sabre rattling is based on crude diversions like Netanyahu’s “atomic archive” fraud, which you so generously cited.

        Meanwhile, Merkel’s recent public displays of whole body trembling probably have more to do with sea monsters like those Dolphin-2 class submarines delivered to Israel under her watch?

        The two submarines cost, overall, around 1.3 billion Euros, of up to one-third was subsidized by Germany. They provide nuclear-armed Israel with a second strike capacity to destroy Europe.

        In 2010, both Israel and Germany denied having talks regarding the potential purchase of a sixth submarine. Yet in 2011, Israel ordered a sixth Dolphin-class submarine, for which it was reported to pay the unsubsidized cost of US$1 billion. However, in July 2011, during a meeting between German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense minister Ehud Barak, an agreement was reached to subsidize 135 million Euros of the US$500–700 million cost of the sixth submarine.

        In late 2016 reports emerged of negotiations for the purchase of three additional ThyssenKrupp built submarines for Israel. However, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called for the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to investigate the negotiations which included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cousin and personal attorney David Shimron for work while on retainer to the offices of Miki Ganor which represents ThyssenKrupp in Israel.

        Mandelblit has decided to ask the state prosecutor to move forward with an investigation into the case. Shimron has been indicted over his role in Israel’s decision to buy the submarines. Israeli media has noted that Shimron shared a law firm with Netanyahu confidante Yitzhak Molcho, a lawyer who worked on Israel’s negotiations with foreign governments.

        Shimron, who also acted for authorised ThyssenKrupp agent Mickey Ganor, is suspected of offering bribes, while Netanyahu reportedly supported a deal for Israeli subs and ships from the German company despite military commanders telling him that they were not needed.

        In 2017, Israel’s navy suddenly said it needed three German-made Dolphin AIP-class submarines “as fast as possible”. The news took military leaders by surprise, contradicting all previous statements by the IDF.

        In October 2017, Israel and Germany confirmed that they have finalised a memorandum of understanding covering the Israeli Navy purchase of three more Dolphin-class submarines to replace the first three of the class starting in 2027. Germany will pay about a half of purchase costs.

        Did the Bundesnachrichtendienst inform Merkel about a “promise” that a nuke will “go off” somewhere in the EU if Germany doesn’t cough up more money for Israel’s “defense” needs?

        Crude assertions from Hasbara commenters notwithstanding. we all definitely should ponder these things.

        • elmerfudzie
          July 29, 2019 at 21:48

          Abe, I’d rather not be persuaded to stray too far off the single point of nuclear proliferation. In particular, nuclear proliferation materiel in the hands of non state actors (crime syndicates) and the transfer of associated technologies.

          Once again, Israel was indeed at one time, in the cross-hairs of JFK and his administration, this in regards to proliferation. Like Pakistan, that’s all in the past and we must now focus on fledgling nuclear states and those states with sufficient potential to “go nuclear”.

          No, I don’t really know why Merkel is shaking but the episode has got me shaking because she is the most powerful and seasoned politician in all Europe. Whatever it was or is that upset such a well balanced personage just might be the sort of thing that I’d rather not know.

          Speaking of upset, I’ve had nightmares (and sweats) about Kim being kidnapped and crazy generals subordinate to him running wild, nuking one of our fleets on patrol in the Pacific.

          Other elements yet to be discussed within the scope of this nuclear proliferation milieu, may be analyzed by revisiting those historical records on The USS Maine’s’ sinking Cuba’s Havana Harbor, the subsequent battle cry across America, remember the Maine! I’m suggesting here a sudden shipboard explosion(s) or fire(s) also recently in the news however the next ship under attack may blanket the airwaves with a distress call about a dirty bomb that just went off. How many ships would make a U-turn and away from the source of such an announcement? The straight of Hormuz is a very busy place and to complicate matters, these mariners are switching identifying flags around, or removing them altogether. Pray tell, What if merchant ship SOLAS or other identifying communications are jammed or switched off by a crewman saboteur? Chaos! So, “dirty” radioactive substances and weapons grade materials or bombs can only serve to complicate matters, especially in such an important maritime bottleneck area.

          That is why Israel plays such a small part when considering these new proliferation issues that (may) directly involve Iran and cargo ship activity through the straight.

      • Abe
        July 30, 2019 at 01:54

        Thanks, comrade “elmerfudzie”, for proving my point that Israel plays a very large part when considering these proliferation issues.

        You excel at outlining specific technical concerns about Israel that are worrying indeed.

        Israel precisely fits the bill as a primary party with the technical know how and financial resources to properly fabricate fissionable material.

        And we need not mention Israel’s capacity to fabricate chemical agents (just ask the Syrians who have been on the receiving end of numerous remarkably well timed “incidents” over the past few years).

        Speaking of upset, nuclear proliferation materiel in the hands of non state actors includes those enterprising Israeli crime syndicates that enjoy a cozy shadow relationship with the Israeli government.

        All those former citizens of Soviet Republics, so eager to serve the state with any number of instances of diversions, for a modest fee of course. Must fuel lots of nightmares (and sweats).

        Keep posting comrade. Though you do have a serious tendency to stray off (the Maine?), your assertions are by no means as crude as you ‘splain’ them to be, and bring focus to the covert activities of the not-so-fledgling nuclear state of Israel.

        • elmerfudzie
          July 30, 2019 at 10:54

          Abe, for the LAST time, Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with my technical concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, the potential spread of nuclear technology throughout the GCC and beyond. I do not support the JCPOA agreement, which does not hold the same weight as a treaty and further, I maintain that the Iranian leadership can only be trusted with an agreement that binds them to total intrusion into and thorough inspection of, all their nuclear research and development sites.

          Please take the time to read my commentaries before you attempt to quote me!

        • Abe
          August 1, 2019 at 18:22

          Hasbara (pro-Israel propaganda) “commentaries” typically “maintain” that “Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with” any of those gnarly “concerns regarding nuclear proliferation, the potential spread of nuclear technology”.

          Of course, these “commentaries” mask the reality that Israel was the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East, has been threatening to attack Iran for decades, and refuses to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

          To monitor and verify Iran’s compliance with the JPCOA, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had regular access to all Iranian nuclear facilities. IAEA inspectors spend 3,000 calendar days per year in Iran, installing tamper-proof seals and collecting surveillance camera photos, measurement data and documents for further analysis.

          IAEA Director Yukiya Amano stated in March 2018, that the organization has verified that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments.

          The IAEA confirmed that the JPCOA was working.

          Utterly regardless of reality, Donald Trump, who is beholden to the pro-Israel Lobby for his presidency (as is his senior cabinet, including national security advisor John Bolton, secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and vice president Mike Pence) announced United States withdrawal from JCPOA on 8 May 2018.

          Following the U.S.’s withdrawal, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute on 7 August 2018 to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran. In November 2018 U.S. sanctions came back into effect.

          In May 2019 the IAEA certified that Iran was abiding by the main terms of the JPCOA, though questions were raised about how many advanced centrifuges Iran was allowed to have, as that was only loosely defined in the agreement.

          On 1 July 2019 Iran announced that it had exceeded the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, which the IAEA confirmed. Shortly afterward Iran announced an increase in uranium enrichment beyond the agreed limit of the deal.

          Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the measures Iran had taken to scale back its commitment to the nuclear deal were reversible if the European signatories to the pact fulfilled their obligations.

          Israel and the pr-Israel Lobby are gung ho for “total intrusion” as long as its not Israeli nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and manufacturing facilities under inspection.

          It is clear that the Israeli leadership can only be trusted with an agreement that binds them to thorough inspection of all their nuclear research and development sites, and the complete elimination of their nuclear weapons arsenal (not to mention their chemical and biological warfare capabilities).

          So please do take the time to read the Hasbara (pro-Israel propaganda) “commentaries” (aka ‘splainin’) of comrade “elmerfudzie”. They are more than a bit dubious, to say the least.

    • Luther Bliss
      July 30, 2019 at 10:25

      Do you know R. James Woolsey?
      I think he’d like your arguments……

      • Abe
        July 31, 2019 at 12:42

        R. James Woolsey is a key figure in numerous pro-Israel Lobby militant “think tanks” and propaganda organizations.

        Woolsey chairs the Leadership Council of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an important bastion of hawkish pro-Israel advocacy that has served as an outpost for many well-known rightist ideologues.

        Woolsey currently sits on the Strategic Advisory Board for Genie Energy with Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, and Lord Jacob Rothschild. Genie is known for discovering a “massive” oil strata in the Golan Heights area of Syria illegally annexed by Israel.

        Woolsey is a staunch backer of policies similar to those of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party, including the expansion of settlements in Palestinian territory.

        Woolsey has also served on the board of advisors of the pro-Israel Lobby organization Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a spinoff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the advisory board of the right-wing pro-Israel Jamestown Foundation.

        So it’s no surprise that the “arguments” of comrade “elmerfudzie” mirror the propaganda peddled by the likes of Woolsey.

  4. jaycee
    July 27, 2019 at 14:35

    The problem – as can be determined from the right-wing opinion makers such as the National Review which Escobar links (“Iran is Begging To Be Bombed”) – is that the “maximum pressure” campaign is in fact an effort at regime change and is in fact a declaration of war on Iran. The intellectual underpinnings of this position – which is a minority position – requires an exaggerated emphasis on a partial understanding of Iran and the region coupled with a deliberate refusal to account for countervailing information and context. That is, it is based entirely on limited and poor analysis, which is in turn completely self-serving to Iran’s regional rivals who have encouraged the faulty thinking in the first place.

    One might think that democratic governmental structures and international institutions such as the UN would be enough to prevent persons with flawed rationales from hijacking policy, but the United States holds too much influence on the world stage to be subject to checks and balances. This obviously must change, but the current trajectory of the “maximum pressure” campaign points to a rather serious military confrontation in the near term with serious consequence for the entire Mid-East region.

  5. July 27, 2019 at 11:32

    The Afghans are probably much better placed to deal with nuclear war than the sophisticated urbane west. The growing Iran crisis is serious, and the possibility of a food embargo would result in closure of the Strait of Hormuz. But the consequent war could not be contained within the borders of Iran, within the region; it would become a world war. Washington would face a Sino-Russian alliance. Events globally suggest we are heading for nuclear Armageddon.

  6. Moi
    July 26, 2019 at 17:19

    The US asked the UK to pirate an Iranian tanker presumably knowing that it had to offload oil before it could get into a Syrian terminal. So where was the Grace 1 originally going to unload? Who are the Iranians protecting and who was the US sending a message to?

    – Turkey regarding S400s?
    – Telling everyone in Europe not to bust sanctions?

    Where? What?

    • Zhu
      July 27, 2019 at 01:44

      Excellent as always, Mr Escobar.

      • Malcolm MacLeod, MD
        July 28, 2019 at 17:02

        Zhu: I fully concur.

    • Skip Scott
      July 28, 2019 at 07:08

      I’m a retired merchant seaman, but I don’t know the Syrian port, or if there are any nearby anchorages. It is fairly common for tankers to be lightered offshore by smaller ships or barges until they can proceed to the dock. Some militaries even have the capability to transfer fuel while underway. It is possible that all the oil was heading for the same port.

  7. rosemerry
    July 26, 2019 at 15:47

    Thanks to Pepe as always. The EU is supposed to be supporting Iran against the illegal sanctions of the US régime but instead joins the “UK” (whatever that is now!) to patrol the Straits of Hormuz which Iran does perfectly well and safely.

  8. July 26, 2019 at 15:01

    In order to lift the sanctions on Iran it would require repealing the US laws now in Force. Trump is bluffing by saying he can Stop the sanctions and Iran nows it.

  9. July 26, 2019 at 14:39

    The world is bettween a rock and a hard place. Iran knows that even if Trump softens on Sanctions he would be impeached for violating the sanctions from Congress which is the law. Which is the Rock, Trump who will say anything to show his supposed power or the illegal US laws already in place about the Sanctions?

  10. Drew Hunkins
    July 26, 2019 at 12:21

    Playing politics with food is dangerous business, and it’s something the sadistic Israeli’s are good at, they put the Palestinians in Gaza on a strict calorie count each day. If the paranoid and hegemonic Zio freaks are able to muscle the U.S. into restricting the average Iranian’s diet the way they do to the Palestinians, then we’re heading for a massive war. No two ways about it — either playing politics with food supplies STOPS or we’re heading for a major Middle Eastern war that will destroy millions of lives across the the globe.

    • mark
      July 26, 2019 at 21:51

      “If they want their people to eat, they have to do as they’re told.”
      “Christian” Evangelist Mike “We lie, we cheat, we steal” Pompeo, the subhuman piece of lying filth that passes for America’s “chief diplomat.”

      The US is like Nazi Germany on steroids.
      One day, maybe sooner than anyone realises, Americans will have to watch their children die in front of them for lack of food and basic medicine. That day can’t come soon enough. It will be very richly deserved. Then maybe they will appreciate what they have inflicted on so many hundreds of millions of people for so many decades. What goes around, comes around.

      The UK is even more of a US satellite than East Germany ever was of the USSR.

      • Gregory Herr
        July 29, 2019 at 22:39

        Most Americans aren’t heartless and cruel. Many are unaware, and those of us with awareness of what our government inflicts upon general populations bang our heads up against “the wall of power” with only so much force. Very few (percentage-wise) adults “deserve” such a fate and none of our children do.

  11. July 26, 2019 at 09:43

    Escobar is a very smart guy as are many CN writers. Great article but must say the highlight was comparing some of our action to a Monty Python skit. His point about the criminality of the sanctions we are imposing is a powerful one and I think the rest of the world is taking note of this abuse of our power.

    On the matter of postings, I note that CN know longer allows you to immediately note the comments have been selected. This caused me to push post a second time with the warning I had already done so. I think I understand why it is done this way and will assume once I punched post, CN has it and has the freedom not to accept it. Makes sense.

    • Sam F
      July 26, 2019 at 20:40

      Yes, the rest of the world is taking note of the historic US abuses of economic and military power.
      It is good that this unregulated economic and military tyranny is discrediting itself permanently.
      But the US people will long remain slaves to the economic powers that control their mass media.
      As the US is embargoed and declines, depressions caused by its rich tyrants will discredit them.
      Until then, all that is bad for the present US is good for its future, hastening restoration of democracy.

  12. bardamu
    July 26, 2019 at 02:36

    Once again, the US will be punished by winning its war.

    As usual, the US has the technological capacity to destroy the military and infrastructure of Iran, but it does not have the social structure or circumstances to occupy the country or profit from a nominal victory. It has specialized to create ruin, not to create democracy or prosperity or order or equality or a separation of church and state.

    Once again, the waning vestiges of legitimacy and constitutionality in–well, if not in the US government, at least in the imaginations of its citizens–go on the chopping block. A war in Iran will be a multigenerational event, a long and detailed lesson in the subtleties of the failures involved in nominal victory and the disparity of interest between the populace and its rulers. It will be a concrete demonstration that invasions have had little to nothing to do with the particular characters of the societies ravaged, but everything to do with the greed and ambitions of some small and mostly occulted groups.

    I will be pleasantly surprised if the US manages to gather itself against this war. I do think that it will hamstring the government’s long ability to exercise pretensions towards democracy while exercising wholesale barbarism towards empire.

    • July 26, 2019 at 20:22

      The US has obligingly placed 20 or so bases around Iran, all within easy reach of Iranian missiles. If the US tries to win a war against Iran it will indeed be punished and severely at that. Still that might not be enough to deter the Trump and his team of neocon crazies, for them lives are cheap, whether Iranian or American.

  13. Carroll Price
    July 25, 2019 at 23:02

    Great article.

  14. Lindis
    July 25, 2019 at 22:16

    Iran is a terrorist regime. No wonder pepe escobar had said nothing about economy of Iran in severe trouble. Iran plots in Middle East, backing attacks in Saudi borders, Israel and sabotaging tankers.

    • Ozymiandas
      July 26, 2019 at 06:13

      According to a moron, Iran is whatever. According to seasoned and informed observers, well the so called crisis has nothing to do with Iran. It is all about the racist and terrorist entity called Israel, and its pipe dream of destroying Iran. Only morons are ignorant of which stranglehold the zionist lobby has on Western politics in the ME. Just sop you know Lindis, Iran will be no walk over, but the death knell of a rotten empire.

      • Malcolm MacLeod, MD
        July 28, 2019 at 17:19

        Ozmiandas: You reflect my thoughts as well. The Zionists welcome another
        world war, as they would gain the most from it, while everyone else loses.

    • Ozymiandas
      July 26, 2019 at 06:13

      According to a moron, Iran is whatever. According to seasoned and informed observers, well the so called crisis has nothing to do with Iran. It is all about the racist and terrorist entity called Israel, and its pipe dream of destroying Iran. Only morons are ignorant of which stranglehold the zionist lobby has on Western politics in the ME. Just so you know Lindis, Iran will be no walk over, but the death knell of a rotten empire.

    • rosemerry
      July 26, 2019 at 15:44

      I think you have landed in the wrong site! Read the article and the other comments and you will be on the right track!!

    • HelenB
      July 26, 2019 at 17:39

      The terrorist states are the US and its parasite “Israel”, Saudi and the UK. They have surrounded Iran with military bases, just as they have with Russia and China. Iran wants to be left alone. Nothing good for anyone will come of the US and its “allies” and “vassals” attacking Iran.

    • mark
      July 26, 2019 at 21:57

      The two prime state sponsors and practitioners of terror in the world are the Zionist Terror Regime and the Ziocon USA.
      But they are overreaching themselves, like Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler in 1941.
      They are going down.
      And when they do, there will be an almighty reckoning.

  15. DW Bartoo
    July 25, 2019 at 19:03

    Pepe Escobar’s analyses, however sobering, are always much appreciated.


    • Realist
      July 28, 2019 at 04:11

      I agree, and I’d say more too if this site would accept anything I try to post.

      Everything I’ve tried to say has disappeared without explanation since 23 July. This is now 28 July.

      Press post or reply and the CN banner simply appears, no moderation, no rejection, just “you don’t exist.”
      It does NOT appear later if I wait long enough.

      I’ve given up wasting my time trying to post here.

      I’ll ask one more time, did the hackers manage to tag certain sources as “spam” which get automatically rejected by the Askismet guard dog? You know, other people get posted, so this is a selective treatment.

      Let’s see what happens THIS time. I’m not optimistic.

      • vinnieoh
        July 28, 2019 at 10:40

        Yesterday I posted a reply to a comment by O Society on the Caitlin Johnstone piece. Not abusive, insulting, or confrontational. I bend over backwards to try to be civil here, on one of the few civilized forums still around. To my surprise it appeared immediately with the note that it was still awaiting moderation. This morning it is gone, as if it was never there. Whatever is going on here does not bode well.

    • Realist
      July 28, 2019 at 04:13

      Goddam, this thing is STILL not posting what I submit.

      Why am I shut out?????

      Fix it!

      • Skip Scott
        July 28, 2019 at 07:28

        Hi Realist-

        I was wondering why we hadn’t heard more from you lately. I have had comments held for days that have then suddenly appeared.
        Since around the 23rd, I have had the same experience regarding all of my posts being held, and not seeing any acknowledgement of receipt. They have turned up, but usually at least a few hours later, sometimes half a day or longer on the weekends.

        I was also a victim of Akismet for around a 8 month period. During that time ALL of my posts (even test posts) went into moderation. I believe this may have happened because I dared to criticize them, and used a foul acronym doing so.

        This is my favorite website, and by far my favorite community of commenters. I especially enjoy hearing your perspective. I hope they can get things straightened out. I suggested after their last cyber attack that they contact Tom Feeley at ICH. He has suffered the same abuse as CN, and I believe he switched media hosts to some entity in Iceland. It is a time consuming pain in the butt, and I think Joe Lauria would rather concentrate on the great articles that he presents, as well as this new CN LIVE project. However, the reality is that CN is ruffling the feathers of our Oligarchy, and it will take a lot of effort to thwart their attacks in times to come.

        • Realist
          July 29, 2019 at 04:17

          I suspect hackers rather than stern moderators, Skip, because all I was trying to post were thanks and positive responses to yourself, Anonymot, Rob Roy, Curious, and Dave P for the comments all had made on my last remarks to be posted–the contributions that Ray McGovern liked. Perhaps one becomes a target if one agrees too strongly with Ray. Especially if one sometimes says he thinks there really is a deep state that is responsible for all the turmoil behind the scenes, and that all presidents end up serving it whether they like it or not. After all, these people are in the business of violent interference against societies across the globe, a little disruptive hacking would be a triviality to them.

          • Skip Scott
            July 29, 2019 at 15:00

            I believe that it is Akismet that puts you in moderation. While I was in “total moderation” mode, I posted a comment on another website that uses Akismet (Kevin Ryan’s 9/11 site), and it was moderated as well.

            I obviously don’t know all the “ins and outs” regarding what is controlled by the media host, what is controlled by CN, and what is controlled by Akismet; but all the latest complications seem to have followed the latest cyber attack on CN.

      • Realist
        July 28, 2019 at 15:38

        As Gomer Pyle would say, “surprise, surprise, surprise.” Only took five days before something I submitted actually got posted. Nothing of substance of course. Just an expression of frustration and complaint. I know, I know, other sites have eliminated all comments because of such problems. That’s the objective of the hackers. If the public cannot access our thoughts and opinions, they might just as well not exist and the propagandists win by default.

  16. Sally Snyder
    July 25, 2019 at 18:41

    Here is a article that takes a detailed look at Iran’s military capabilities:

    Once American servicemen start dying for this rather nebulous cause, it will be the reaction of American voters that will ultimately determine the extent and duration of yet another Middle East military, nation re-engineering “adventure”.

    • a.z
      July 25, 2019 at 20:22

      iraq did tremendous damage to us empire but by then israel and american special interest groups got what they wanted. bush2(the retard of the family) is now even rehabilated. the same logic at play and a smart fraud like trump might be compensated for loss of face

  17. Jeff Harrison
    July 25, 2019 at 16:58

    Thank you, Pepe. An excellent peroration. The US and our vassals seem to think that Iran will be a pushover. Iran learned a lesson in the Iran Iraq war that they’re not likely to forget. They also seem to forget that Iran doesn’t have to sink a single tanker. Oil companies aren’t going to risk VLCCs just on the say so of the US and its vassals when Iran can shoot their “armada” like rubber duckies in a bathtub.

    My question is why isn’t the UN even attempting to fulfill it’s role of peacekeeper in the face of flagrant violations of the UN charter? If they can’t even do that, why bother with them?

    • AnneR
      July 26, 2019 at 09:26

      My thanks to Pepe, too, for this succinct overview and such a pleasant change from the usual MSM (as represented by the BBC World Service and NPR) anti-Iranian megaphoning.

      Jeff – good questions. But hey the UN “Human Rights” whatever, Michelle Bachelet was busy standing up for the “human rights” of 100 “civilians” (in quotes because one can never rely on western media p.o.v. about the inhabitants of Idlib, their being “civilian” or ISIS/Al Nusra folks) who, she said, were “deliberately targeted by Syrian” bombs (presumably dropped from aircraft). This was one of the main news items on the BBC.

      So far as I’m aware – until I read about it in this article – there has been no mention on either the BBC World Service or NPR about these two Iranian cargo vessels containing foodstuffs being prevented from re-fuelling in Brazil (under US orders – completely contrary to UN human rights law; but, hey, the UN is basically the US government’s poodle). No outcry from Ms Bachelet about this deliberate trouncing of human rights law, morals and ethics – a deliberate breach which may well lead to thousands dying from starvation (of course, those deaths will be blamed on the Iranian government for not capitulating to the US, for not crawling on all fours toward the Lords of the planet).

      Nor (slightly off topic) have I heard a peep from this same Bachelet coming out with condemnations of the human rights abuses (violent, genocidal) committed by Saudia against the Yemenis (via bombs, blockade of food and medicine) and by Israel against the Palestinians (via bombs, snipers, bulldozers, blockades of food, medicine, electricity etc.) – all of which have caused many multiples of the “100 Syrian civilians” deaths and severe injuries, loss of homes and fields. But then, Saudia and Israel are untouchable, immune while Iran, Syria and so on are not.

      • Malcolm MacLeod, MD
        July 28, 2019 at 17:35

        AnneR: Good points, and unfortunately, that’s all that we have to work with.
        It appears to indicate that the wrong side won WWll. That idea will take a
        while to digest, as I was part of the US Army European occupation in 1955.

    • Sam F
      July 26, 2019 at 19:55

      Yes, the silence of the UN is deafening, plainly due to its debilitation by US threats and bribes.
      The US proves to the world its corruption by economic power, and its people seek no solution.

Comments are closed.