On September 26th, President Donald Trump will chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to discuss, according to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, “Iran’s violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region.”
Because the UNSC has five permanent members (U.S., UK, China, Russia, and France) and ten non-permanent members representing the six regions of the world, one would hope Trump will have allies and find himself preaching to the choir. He will not. When Trump enters the UNSC ring to take on Tehran, he will find China and Russia in Iran’s corner, with members of the European Union (EU) cheering the mullahs on.
For the first time in years, Tehran finds itself on the ropes economically. President Barack Obama relieved economic pressure on Iran to bribe the regime to agree to a one-sided nuclear deal. But when Trump vigorously re-applied economic pressure, the citizenry of Iran, tiring again of the mullahs’ oppressive rule, showed their discontent, often at cost of their lives. As inflation racks the country and basic necessities run scarce, the Iranian people saw the mullahs continuing to live the life of the “rich and famous,” having stolen the country’s industries and assets to do so. That vast wealth is shared with the mullahs’ “muscle” — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a global crime cartel that maintains the kleptocracy in power.
And then, at a time when the economic noose should be tightened around the leadership’s neck, the EU has given Iran additional breathing space by gifting the mullahs a $21 million financial package. Even though those modest funds are meant to signal the EU’s desire to maintain the nuclear deal and the business deals it brings them, there should be little doubt the money will be used to fuel more assassination attempts and terrorism of the sort foiled in Paris before the annual “Free Iran” rally held by an Iranian regime opposition group.
Four arrests, including that of an Iranian diplomat, were made in several EU nations for an “attempt at terrorist murder and preparing a terrorist crime.” Apparently, however, that terrorist conspiracy last June was of insufficient gravity to deter the EU from providing a financial gift two months later. Nor was the detailed July report by German authorities in 2016 that Iran was still illicitly seeking to buy nuclear weapons technology.
Meanwhile, the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has falsely proclaimed Iran has faithfully been complying with inspections of its nuclear facilities. But what the IAEA failed to report is the deal Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with the mullahs allows Iran — a country that has repeatedly lied about its activities and still refuses to allow inspection of its military sites — the right to “self-inspect” those facilities. As a result, no one has independent verification of how far advanced Iran’s nuclear weapons program was at the time of the deal, so there is no confirmed base point from which to determine the extent of future violations.
If the EU really doubts Iran’s intention to develop a nuclear arsenal, then Israel’s intelligence coup in May, releasing thousands of smuggled documents detailing the mullahs’ plans, should erase them. Yet, that too, apparently, proved insufficient to prevent the EU’s multi-million dollar gift.
Even though Trump will have much to say at the UNSC session about Iran’s aggressive activities and nuclear violations, the EU is very unlikely to act in concert with U.S. efforts to economically tie the mullahs’ hands. It is even more unlikely Trump’s efforts will earn cooperation from either China or Russia.
China is undoubtedly coaching North Korea’s Kim Jong-un during his test of wills with Trump and will do little, if anything, to alleviate pressure on an American administration under attack at home by both the opposition party and the media.
For its part, Russia has long been in bed with Iran. After all, Moscow (as well as Beijing) helped Tehran develop its nuclear technology decades ago and now is committed to ensuring the survival of mullah’s puppet in Syria, President Bashar Assad.
Undoubtedly lost on Russian President Vladimir Putin is that Iranian success today will surely not bode well for Russia’s future based on plans Tehran made clear as the Soviet Union was collapsing. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, sent then-President Mikhail Gorbachev a letter encouraging him to see the light of Islam and to go toward it. Obviously, Gorbachev dismissed such advice but Russia faces a significantly increasing Muslim population that will now have a greater influence on both the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. A future Russian president may not have the same option Gorbachev had.
There will be seeds for thought that Trump should plant at the UNSC meeting, such as asking why Iran, with its huge oil and gas fields, has any need to enrich uranium (enough for a bomb) or why the mullahs are allegedly developing an ICBM while they have no intention to develop nuclear warheads.
A betting man would not put money on Trump’s Security Council meeting rallying international support for regime change in Iran. With the mullahs’ abysmal human rights record, with their record as the leading executioner per capita of their own citizens, and with the Iranian people rioting against their oppressive dictators, a betting man would put his money on regime change coming from within Iran rather than from without.
President Trump should double down on that bet, and clearly tell the UN Security Council that America will help the Iranian people to be free.
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.