William O. Beeman
Q1: On Friday, US President Donald Trump’s administration renewed five of seven sanctions waivers that allow Russia and European nations to conduct civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran but revoked the other two as part of its pressure campaign against Tehran, according to the US State Department. Washington also stopped issuing waivers to buy Iranian crude oil on Thursday. Before the US moves, Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, had warned against their consequences. What is your assessment of the developments and how do you think about Iran’s possible reaction to the US decision?
Q2: As you know, Zarif was recently in the US. In multiple interviews with US media outlets and a roundtable with reporters in New York last week, he made the case that a group dubbed “the B-Team” was goading the US toward conflict with Iran, not Trump. The B-team is a group of advisers and foreign leaders whose names share the same letter: National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ). What is your take on Zarif’s remarks? How do you assess the message of his trip to the US?
Q3: Zarif recently said he plans to visit North Korea in the near future. What do you think about possible objectives behind his trip and do you think that it would have links with his recent trip to the US?