20 March 2018 | Frank Chen | Asia Times
“The repercussions of US President Donald Trump’s firing of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state are being intimately felt in Tehran now that the last bulwark against a US falling-out with Iran is gone.
It’s feared that the installation of the hawkish Mike Pompeo as US secretary of state, though yet to be endorsed by the Senate, may signal the last gasp of the Iran nuclear deal.
In an op-ed, the Beijing-based Reference News, one of China’s most-read dailies known for its extensive coverage of international affairs, said America’s defense industry and arm dealers were perhaps “rubbing their hands with glee” as more nations in the Middle East would have to procure more weapons and war materiel now that Trump was set to rip up a deal seen as a cornerstone of the region’s security.
Many believe that Trump, as early as in May, will ultimately annul the deal on nuclear non-proliferation, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, whose signatories, other than Iran and the US, were China, Russia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stocks of low-enriched uranium by 98%, and reduce by about two-thirds the number of its gas centrifuges. It also agreed not to build any new heavy-water facilities.
“Iran’s old foes like Israel and Saudi Arabia have emerged as the biggest beneficiaries of the still-evolving crisis when the US-Iran ties regress to the old days of animosity.…
“Saudi bought almost one-fifth of the US’s arms exports in the past five years, and a businessman-turned-president like Trump is unquestionably a wheeler-dealer who doesn’t mind shooting down a vital treaty to keep arms orders coming,” noted the Global Times in another editorial.
Meanwhile, the feud between Saudi Arabia and Iran is running deep in the ongoing war in Yemen, where Saudi is bogged down by the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters in Washington on Monday that the Iran nuclear deal was “fundamentally flawed” and the international society should stop appeasing the “destabilizer” in the region.
His remarks came ahead of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to the White House on Tuesday, where, on top of a “crucial talk” on the Iran nuclear deal, it’s said the Trumps will host the heir to the Saudi throne and top decision-maker on arms deals to a banquet to reciprocate the courtesy they received when visiting Saudi Arabia in May 2017.
Xinhua reported that Trump would be lobbying for US$35 billion in deals for US companies, citing a senior US administration official.
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Lu Kang, said earlier this year that the nuclear deal was a result of arduous multilateral maneuvers, a vital treaty that should not be cast away, and that Iran’s “full compliance” with it must be acknowledged.
He urged “relevant parties” to demonstrate will to patch up dissensions to enable the deal’s continued implementation, adding that China opposed Washington’s unilateral sanctioning of a sovereign country with domestic laws.