Iran's Revolutionary Guard: US has started 'psychological war'

After the US army sent forces into the Middle East, Iran has said it won't surrender to political and economic pressure. US President Trump said he wants to hear directly from Iran's leaders and asked them to call him.

The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Major General Hossein Salami, said in a parliament session on Sunday that the United States has started a psychological war in the region, according to a parliamentary spokesman.

"Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter," said Behrouz Nemati in a summary of Salami's comments, according to parliament's ICANA news site.

The US military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what US officials have said are "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month.

Iran: 'Hit them in the head'

But Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division, said what once might have been a threat for Iran was now seen as an opportunity.

"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now ... the threats have switched to opportunities," Hajizadeh said. "If [the Americans] make a move we will hit them in the head."

Read more: What is Iran's Revolutionary Guard?

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

The deal breaker

President Donald Trump announced on May 8, 2018 that he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, arguing that the international accord was not in America's "national interest." The decision threw a cloud of uncertainty over the future of the nuclear accord and raised tensions with US allies in Europe.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Slap in the face

Britain, France and Germany lobbied the Trump administration and Congress to remain in the nuclear accord, arguing that the deal was working and a US violation without a follow up plan would be destabilizing. In European capitals, the Trump administration's withdrawal was viewed as a slap in the face of allies.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Iran scrap 'voluntary commitments'

A year to the day after Trump's announcement, Iran informed the other signatories of the accord that they would no longer adhere to certain "voluntary commitments." Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the signatory nations had 60 days to implement promises to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors or Iran would resume the enrichment of uranium.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Response to US pressure

The decision came after the United States deployed an aircraft, the USS Lincoln, along with a bomber task force to the Middle East. Washington said the deployment was intended as a "clear unmistakable message." Iran said it took action because the European Union and others "did not have the power to resist US pressure."

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

A triumph of diplomacy

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, was signed in 2015 by United States, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain (P5+1) and Iran following years of negotiations. Under the international agreement, Iran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program and be subject to monitoring in exchange for the lifting of international nuclear related sanctions.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Compliance and verification

The JCPOA includes a robust monitoring, verification and inspection regime carried out by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The UN watch dog has verified Iran's compliance with the deal in 12 quarterly reports. The JCPOA allows Iran to pursue a peaceful nuclear program for commercial, medical and industrial purposes in line with international non-proliferation standards.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Obama's achievement

The Iran nuclear deal was President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy achievement. Seeking to undo nearly every Obama administration legacy, Trump came into office calling it the "worst deal ever." The Trump administration argues the nuclear deal doesn't address other unrelated issues such as Iran's ballistic missiles, regional influence, support for "terrorist" groups and human rights.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Iranians approved

The nuclear deal and lifting of punishing nuclear related international sanctions created optimism in Iran after years of economic isolation. However, even before Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Tehran blamed the US for holding back international investment and not fulfilling its end of the bargain due to the uncertainty created by Trump's threats.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

The opponents

After eight years with Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found the US president he wanted in Donald Trump. The Israeli leader repeatedly slammed the deal despite his own military and intelligence chiefs' assessment the that JCPOA, while not perfect, was working and should be maintained. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the other main opponents of the nuclear deal.

Iran nuclear deal — treaty under threat

Who's left?

The EU-3 (Britain, France, Germany) have scrambled to ensure that Iran receives the economic benefits it was promised in order to avoid Tehran pulling out of the deal. As EU businesses face retaliation from the US for doing business with Iran, many are opting to avoid Iran. This would likely be a present to Chinese and Russian businesses.

Iran 'must not surrender'

Salami and Hajizadeh's comments came as top officials from Tehran and Washington insisted that they were not prepared to back down, amid escalating tensions between the two nations.

Earlier this week, Rouhani said Tehran would begin to withdraw from key aspects of the 2015 international nuclear deal unless major powers swiftly grant promised sanctions relief.

Wednesday marked a year since US President Donald Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the JCPOA nuclear deal.

Related Subjects

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will not surrender to political and economic pressure.

"Surrendering is not compatible with our culture and religion, and people do not accept it, so we must not surrender and we must find solutions," Rouhani told political activists, according to a statement published on his office's website late on Saturday.

Read more: US military flare-up 'would be a godsend to Iran hardliners'

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

Sanctions signed off

US President Trump signed an executive order on August 5 aimed at piling financial pressure on Tehran to force a "comprehensive and lasting solution" to Iranian threats, including its development of missiles and regional "malign" activities. Trump warned that those who don't wind down their economic ties to Iran "risk severe consequences."

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

Where's the money?

The first phase, which took effect on August 7, targets the Islamic Republic's access to US banknotes, making transactions in a US-dollar dominated financial world difficult. A ban on Iran purchasing precious metals including gold further serves as an attempt to cut the country off from global markets.

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

Planes, cars and carpets

Phase one also hits key industries including the purchase of commercial planes, cars and carpets. Iranian imports of graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, gold and some software are also affected. German automaker Daimler called off the production and sale of Mercedes-Benz trucks in Iran indefinitely after the sanctions came into force.

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

Fuel to the fire

A second phase of sanctions — which is due to take effect on November 5 and will block Iran's oil sales — is due to cause more damage. Several countries, however, including China, India and Turkey have indicated they are not willing to entirely cut their Iranian energy purchases.

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

'Psychological warfare'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the United States had launched "psychological warfare" against Iran to create division amongst its people. But he insisted that Iran still can rely on its allies China and Russia to keep its oil and banking sectors afloat. He has also demanded compensation for decades of American "intervention" in the Islamic Republic.

US sanctions against Iran are back in effect

EU protection

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc is encouraging small and medium enterprises to increase their business with Iran. She said Tehran has been compliant with their nuclear-related commitments. The EU issued a "blocking statute" to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.

'Call me'

Following Rouhani's announcement about withdrawing from the deal, Trump said he would like to hear directly from Iran's leaders.

"What I'd like to see with Iran — I'd like Iran to call me," Trump said.

His response prompted social media users in Iran to respond with the trending motto: "Call me first."

Other nations have expressed concern about Iran withdrawing from the nuclear deal, including Germany.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made clear that Iran's activities in the region make the nuclear deal even more important.

"We need this agreement because we distrust Iran," he told the Bild Am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. Opposition politicians in Germany have urged Maas to travel to Iran to salvage the deal, stressing that diplomacy from afar would not do in this case.

Read more: Is Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terror group as US says?

Separately on Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Sunday that US national security adviser John Bolton had made plans for the US to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and take a more aggressive stance toward the Islamic Republic even before he took up his current post.

Zarif tweeted a link to a 2017 National Review article written by Bolton with the headline "How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal."

"A detailed blueprint for #FakeIntelligence, #ForeverWar and even empty offers for talks — only phone numbers were not included," Zarif wrote in the tweet.

law/ng (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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