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A political science professor told ILNA in an exclusive Interview "I don't think INSTEX is enough to make a difference. It mainly shows that Europe is willing to work with Iran while the US will not."

Kurk Dorsey is political science professor at New Hampshire University believes that Europeans are working very hard to keep the Iran and U.S. from stumbling into war. "I would conclude that U.S. President and the Europeans are cooperating, one taking a hard line and one taking a soft line."

Below is his interview with ILNA news agency:

Q: What is your analysis of Iran-US relations?

A: Each country has a deep distrust of the other because of events in the 20th century. Iranians recall that the US overthrew Mohammed Mosaddegh in the 1950s and supported the Shah right up to 1979.  Americans recall that Iranians took Americans hostage at the US embassy in 1979.  With that background, the two nations would need to have an urgent common interest to forge a breakthrough, the way that the US and Vietnam have normalized relations because both distrust China.  But right now the two sides are deeply split about the right of Israel to exist and who will have more influence in Iraq.

It appears that the Iranian government believes that it needs either the threat of a nuclear weapon or an international agreement that manages its nuclear program to prevent the United States from intervening to topple its government the way it toppled Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi.  North Korea seems to have made a similar conclusion. I don't see the US changing its position any time soon, since both Obama and Trump agree that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon and Israel should be allowed to exist, even though they disagree on the exact policies to pursue.


Q: Given the likelihood of a war, is it not better for Europe to prevent from war by helping to Iran?

A: The Europeans would certainly not support a war between the US and Iran, but I think they see Iran as more of a force for instability in the region than the US. I am confident that the Europeans are working very hard to keep the two countries from stumbling into war.  If Trump were a smart guy, I would conclude that he and the Europeans are cooperating, one taking a hard line and one taking a soft line; but Trump isn't that smart.  Europe needs Iranian oil far more than the US needs it, and Europe needs to be as important as the US, so the nuclear deal was very good for Europe.  Hence, the Europeans will work very hard to restore it, but they won't get involved in a war.  In any case, I think war is unlikely.


Q: Why does not the United States work for the disarmament of Israel?

A: This is a very big question which reaches back to the 1940s and World War II. The US made a controversial decision in 1948 to support Israeli independence, in large part because of the suffering of Jews in the Holocaust. I should note that Holocaust denial by Iranian officials is one of the things that keep US leaders from reaching out to them on a friendly basis. Since then, the US had been committed to defending Israel's right to exist, but often at odds with Israel about how to do that.  The US was, for instance, opposed to Israel getting a nuclear weapon, but eventually concluded that Israel would not give it up and would not be the first to use it. US presidents have agreed that Iran might use a nuclear weapon on Israel, but Israel would not use a bomb on its neighbors unless it was attacked first Israel without nuclear weapons would be vulnerable to being attacked by Iran or another country with such weapons.


Q: Does Iran's recent move mean a nuclear agreement violation? Does Iran have right to force other parties to do their tasks?

A: It appears that Iran has violated one piece of the agreement, but it also appears that Iran has not violated the core part of the agreement, which is that it will not build a nuclear weapon. Iran can demand that other nations live up to the treaties it signed with them, but it cannot force anyone to do anything. Almost every treaty signed has a piece that allows a signatory nation to withdraw from the treaty without penalty. Otherwise, if a nation fails to live up to its agreements, all that other nations can do is shame them to do better and then refuse to sign future agreements with them.


Q: What is the probability of a war between Iran and the United States?

A: The fact that President Trump wisely pulled back from retaliating for the attack on the US drone tells me that he does not want war.  He wants to bluff the Iranians into changing their language and maybe their policy. The most important thing about Trump is that he hates Barack Obama more than he hates any foreign leader, so he wants to do the opposite of what he thinks Obama would do.  I suspect that he actually respects the Iranian leaders for being strong in their response to US positions--he respects strong leaders, even if they are not US allies.  At the same time, it is also clear that lower-level people in the US government want a confrontation with Iran --hence the recent sanctions-- so maybe there is a 10-20% chance of war this year.


Q: Is Europe willing to continue to trade with Iran?

A: Yes, Europe needs to get oil from Iran, so it will do what it can to keep the trade flowing through the Straits of Hormuz.


Q: Can Iran trust US and negotiate with United States?

A: Yes, I believe that the US will negotiate in good faith if the two sides ever sit down.  President Obama was correct in his willingness to meet Iranian officials, and I think Trump would love to be able to get a deal with Iran that he could say was better than the one Obama got (as he did in his trade deal with Canada and Mexico). The main problem with dealing with the US right now, is that Trump is hard to predict. Any country might think it knows what the US wants to accomplish, but even Trump does not know what he wants. It's hard to deal with someone like that.


Q: What fate awaits the world in the event of a war?

A: If Trump gets to that point, I expect a war will be mainly an air war launched by the US against Iranian infrastructure and leaders. The US does not have the troops, desire, or allies to invade Iran. I suspect that the Iranian government would retaliate by attacking Israel in the hopes of making this a war between the US-Israel and the rest of the Middle East. If that happened, it would get very ugly with huge casualties. I suspect that Trump's advisors have been trying to make that point to him.  He got elected in part by telling average people in America that George W. Bush and Barack Obama had wasted theirs sons' lives on unwinnable wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. I think he wants to avoid having the same problem.


Q: Can INSTEX solve Iran problem?

A: No, I don't think INSTEX is enough to make a difference.  It mainly shows that Europe is willing to work with Iran while the US will not.


Europe INSTEX sanctions on Iran 2015 nuclear deal Iran economic problems
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