EghtesadOnline: US President Donald Trump is pushing to fundamentally "redefine” ties with Iran, as he nears the end of his first term in office and is trying to shape his legacy, an expert on North America said.
The 40-year shaky relations between Tehran and Washington is a major source of distress for the businessman-turned-politician, who considers the current state of relations between the two countries as unacceptable, Amir Ali Abolfath told Iranian Diplomacy.
"Trump’s mindset is either a final negotiation with Iran on all unresolved conflicts, or an all-out war, the scope of which will be greater than their wars with Afghanistan or Iraq," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
Following Trump's withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the reimposition of sweeping sanctions aimed at the country's economy and infrastructures, tensions ratcheted up between the arch-enemies over the last few months, with Washington blaming Iran for several attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and rocket attacks on Iraqi bases that host American troops. Iran has firmly denied the accusations.
The two countries now face a watershed moment after US assassinated Iran's top military commander Major General Qasem Soleimani in an abrupt airstrike in the Iraqi capital early Friday.
"With the assassination of Soleimani, the White House is trying to throw the ball in Iran's court, to force Tehran to make a choice between a full-scale war and a final negotiation," Abolfath said.
The analyst is referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's list of 12 "basic requirements" for a new treaty, including that Iran must stop uranium enrichment, never pre-process plutonium and allow "unqualified access to all [nuclear] sites throughout the country”.
Pompeo has also demanded that Iran curtail its regional role and abandon ballistic missile development, both no-go areas for the Islamic Republic.
Iran's position has been clear ever since Trump reneged on the nuclear agreement that the US should lift all sanctions and end its coercive policies.
The expert on US affairs said the two are locked in a spiraling conflict, and "Iranian officials' position to seek neither war nor negotiations cannot last forever".
Abolfath noted that following the outrageous assassination of General Soleimani, Iran has reacted prudently to the provocative measure so as to not be driven into a corner.
"If Trump is elected for a second term, he will have more time to pressure Iran toward his two options: war or negotiation," he concluded.