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Trump, Iran, the nuclear deal and North Korea. Bartoli (Seton Hall University): “A contradictory peace lies in store for us”

“Verification” is the term that Andrea Bartoli, dean of the Diplomatic and International Relations School of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, a diplomat and expert in conflict resolution, repeats several times in his analysis of the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, also when referring to the breakthrough in the relations with North Korea

(New York) “Verification” is the term that Andrea Bartoli, dean of the Diplomatic and International Relations School of Seton Hall University in New Jersey, a diplomat and expert in conflict resolution, repeats several times in his analysis of the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, also when referring to the breakthrough in the relations with North Korea. “Verification” is thus the guarantee of a conflict-prevention dialogue process, yet “we don’t want to do the good we consider necessary and we constantly face the challenge of the mystery of evil.”

What do you think of President Trump’s decision to put an end to an agreement ultimately wanted by the same US administration?

In this process we must not forget that Trump is a businessman, thus he always aims at a good deal. He may want to achieve his goals via exacting, harsh negotiations, alien to customary diplomatic language. In fact he is much more prone to use hyperboles, insults, public threats, in order to be seen as a menace and obtain a result, as was the case in North Korea. It is essential to distinguish style from substance.

What does this decision entail, in addition to the already announced sanctions?

I would like to point out that verification is critical to any agreement on nuclear weapons. In this respect, the problem will not only be what will be said but how to verify that what is decided is actually put in place.

Those in charge of verifying compliance to the deal confirmed that Iran adheres to it in many areas, and while there is no reason to believe that it violated the agreement with the international community, there is no evidence that he stopped investing in nuclear armaments.

Yet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an independent body, reaffirmed that Iran is continuing to implement its commitments. Are these checks not considered sufficient?

Verification is not a question of independence, rather, it can be said that the more the parties and the independent structures are involved in the verification process, the higher the chance of conflicts of interest, for the controllers could be paid by the controlled company. All parties to the deal share the same interest in ensuring monitoring and verification, for they consider it decisive. However, there is an underlying hostile attitude that does not consist in attempting violations but in reaffirming that it was a bad deal in the first place, based on untruthful and inopportune assumptions.

What could be Europe’s role?

Europe’s next steps are yet to be ascertained, however, there is still room for manoeuvre. By paradox this could result in an Iran that still upholds the deal even through the guarantees that could be offered by the international community – exception made for the United States. This would usher in a scenario of isolation for USA and Israel while

USA and Europe could drift further apart

in unprecedented ways, although today we are witnessing new dynamics and balances that are taking shape from a European angle.

The peace agreement with North Korea was unexpected …

The US decision to close the chapter of war opens the unchartered chapter of peace. Now the question is not so much related to talks or meetings. Rather, it regards the ability of the many involved parties to end the war, for the North and South Korean issue involves not only the US but also China, Russia and other countries that participated in the Korean war.

In the US many commentators question Kim Jong-un’s true intention to dismantle nuclear weapons claiming that it’s a cover diplomatic operation, that underlies, although to a lesser degree, the backbone of an acquired nuclear power like that of North Korea.

The future holds in store a contradictory peace in which on the one side diplomatic action puts an end to the war with the US, and on the other it pledges its commitment to a negotiating chapter that might never end, as it is necessary to verify the goals that North Korea has and is entitled to have. South Korea is coordinating the peace process because it invested in the politics of dialogue, driven by the aspirations of the population and by the Prime Minister’s personal motivations. One wonders what form of peace will emerge in a context marked by a developed, democratic South, open to the world through the Internet, and a militarized and isolated North. We should, however, leave room for hope, the hope that Korea may become the common ground of different worlds, whence could emerge a new and unexpected reality.

Could the appointment of Mike Pompeo as new Secretary of State foster this “rough” – yet occasionally effective – form of diplomacy?

In certain respects it is a good choice because it helps Trump to say what he thinks. The US President is a very pragmatic person, and he wants equally pragmatic people by his side. Indeed, he has a personal style that demands utmost loyalty, and Pompeo is much more able to read through Trump and express his style, than Tillerson. Those who criticise him for his role in the CIA should be reminded that he served in the secret service for a very short period, as opposed to Bush Sr., with a long tenure in the CIA, driving the CIA to the presidency. Trump does not understand the administrative machine and together with Pompeo they represent a duo on the margins of bureaucracy: it is yet to be seen how they will be able to express and govern it and above all, how much this machine will let itself be governed by them.

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