Trump Decertifies Iran Nuclear Deal

Reuters: President Trump to decertify Iran nuclear deal in major shift in U.S. policy, with additional cooks stirring the broth: U.S. lawmakers set plan to fix ‘flaws’ in Iran nuclear deal

I discussed outright withdrawal in  Withdrawal from Iran Nuclear; Mattis Plan; More Aggressive U.S. Strategy.

Compared to the withdrawal, this is more nuanced approach, with at least the possibility of better outcomes. What should a reader with an inclination towards open source intelligence look for?

Iran is a society split down the middle. Ultimate power resides with a clergy in partnership with a military-industrial complex, of which the prominent part is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRG). Though infused with religion, some respects of the IRG resemble China’s old Red Army, which formerly encompassed a  miscellany of state enterprises. The secular government of Iran, with some of the trappings of a democracy, is actually a consensus building framework, a kind of reactive ball of clay in the hands of the theocracy.

But the mind of the person who is occupied with religious fervor cannot contain the greatest scientific or engineering intellect. So the human resource attachments of the IRG blend gradually into a sophisticated, nearly secular, technology workforce,  dependent on the IRG for contracts analogous to the dependence of Western defense industry on secular politics. Further out in the blend, Iran’s society encompasses a large, completely secular component that completely rejects the thinking we find so odious.

Previous attempts to incentivize moderation in Iran have backfired, because when the religious-military establishment sensed an external threat, it reacted with internal repression. But when Iran’s religious establishment sensed internal threat to stability, it popped the escape valve, letting off some steam with “liberalization.” The quotes emphasize that what is given can be taken away. Liberalization, in the mind of Iran’s theocracy, does not mean ceding of ultimate authority.

The secular democracy is the window into Iran. The theocracy and IRG are opaque to open source. But to mold the consensus ball of clay, the hidden hands have to show at least fingers and knuckles. The open source intelligence enthusiast can watch this interaction.

The intelligence establishment has a hard job in this. In reaction to the decertification, and the sanctions to follow, the various public fronts of Iran will throw off all kinds dire threats of smoke and fire. Which is real? Will Iran be coerced into acting as a responsible state, or will it go totally rogue?

To be a member of the international community, or not to be? That is the question.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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