Muslim Press has conducted an interview with Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, an expert on U.S. foreign policy, to discuss the future of US-Iran relations.

“I believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a ‘total disregard’ for America’s dictates, and total aversion to America’s destruction of countries and the murder of millions of individuals throughout the world,” she says.

Read the full text of the interview:

Muslim Press: What’s your prediction about the future of the Iran nuclear deal under Trump administration?

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich: Given that this is a multi-lateral agreement, it would not bode well for any one party to pull out of the deal. President Trump and his advisors are keenly aware that if the US gets out of the deal, it would undermine America’s position. What is certain is that the administration will do everything in its power to push Iran to negate on its commitment so that it can rally others to join its position – including imposing further sanctions. But we must be mindful that this has been the position of the Obama administration as well. Trump will only continue this policy. The goal of this deal and its aftermath has always been to undermine Iran and strengthen America’s hand in dealing with Iran.

Neoconservatives in the US have already set the stage (and in fact acted on it) to present a false narrative of Iran violating the deal. Due to his policies and his persona, Trump will not be as successful as Obama to promote false narratives and to gather support. However, Trump and his generals are more reactionary and ideology-driven.

One of Donald Trump's picks for his new administration was paid $50,000 by the "cult-like" Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a long-standing Iranian opposition group classified as a terrorist organization by the US until 2012. How would this affect US-Iran conflict?

The MEK were in fact delisted as a terrorist organization by the Obama administration even as the nuclear talks were being conducted, and the payout by these terrorists is not restricted to Trump and his administration/advisors. The fact of the matter is that US foreign policy is continuous and once this stark fact is realized, it becomes easier to understand and deal with US foreign policy. Prominent MEK backers have included Howard Dean of Vermont; former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York and Trump supporter who is currently heading Trump’s cyber security group; George W. Bush’s first homeland security chief, Tom Ridge; and Patrick J. Kennedy, a former member of Congress from Rhode Island and nephew of former president John F. Kennedy admitted to having received $25,000.

What may be concerning is the close relations between Trump and Netanyahu, and Israel’s protection of the MEK in exchange for their betrayal. It is possible that the terror cult will be used to wage a psychological war against Iran, even promoted as “opposition”. However, given that a vast number of Trump’s supporters are “anti-Moslem”, it is unlikely that legitimizing them as an opposition or alternative would be deemed as acceptable to his base. In all likelihood, they will be used to draw reaction from Tehran.

Russia has rejected Trump’s assertion that Iran is the world’s “number one terrorist” nation, and said that the government in Tehran should be part of a proposed coalition to fight against ISIS. What’s your take on Iran’s role in the fight against ISIS?

Iran has been fighting ISIS from the onset and has been doing an admirable job. However, I do not foresee a workable coalition that includes Iran and those who are aiding ISIS, that is, the United States, Israel, Turkey and the Arab states.

Following a dispute over Iran’s missile test, Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the missile test was not intended to send a message to Trump. What’s your assessment on the conflict between Tehran and Washington regarding Iran’s missile program?

As I stated earlier, the US is using any and all false pretexts to accuse Iran of violating the JCPOA; although Washington is aware that Iran’s missile program is separate from the JCPOA and Iran is within its right to develop its conventional missiles. The vast majority of the world population is not aware of the JCPOA details. As is always the case, Washington will attempt to promote a lie to justify their punitive and illegal measures.

Trump has said that Iran has “total disregard” for America. Do you think this disregard would change in the coming years?

I believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a ‘total disregard’ for America’s dictates, and total aversion to America’s destruction of countries and the murder of millions of individuals throughout the world. Change in this disregard is only possible if America abandons its hegemonic policies and all the crimes it entails, or, if Iran embraces all of America’s crimes. I don’t foresee either scenario.


Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has a Master's in Public Diplomacy from USC Annenberg for Communication. She is an independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of the lobby. Her articles have been published by several online publications. She is a public speaker. She is frequently interviewed by Russia TV