Twelve Demands for the US: An Unreasonable Proposal?

Marker Pencil Pen Check List Checked Checklist

by Gordon Adams

The myopia of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s list of demands for Iran, should it want a future deal with the US, was typical. Basically, give up and give in, with a subtle hint of regime change as part of the bargain. The list was clearly designed to provoke, not to open a discussion. And it contained the mirror image problem: how might Iran, a country surrounded by unfriendly military forces, see the world? And what might Iranians expect?

Suppose the tables had been reversed and Iran had decided to pose a list of 12 demands, asking the US to make fundamental changes in its regional and global engagement, in exchange for Iran’s decision to stay in, even extend, the JCPOA. Such a list might look like the following:

  1. The United States must declare the full extent of its nuclear military modernization program, including disclosure of and all strategic contingency planning for the actual use of low-yield nuclear weapons, and the full life-cycle cost estimates for production of next-generation nuclear systems such as the B-21 bomber.
  1. The United States must halt this nuclear modernization program, including its enrichment activities, plutonium reprocessing, and the modernization of its nuclear weapons production complex, and announce its intention and a measurable plan to denuclearize its military in an internationally verifiable way.
  1. The United States must immediately rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union, and live up to its commitments under that agreement.
  1. The United States must withdraw all its military forces under American command from Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, allowing those countries to settle their own internal disputes and provide for their own security.
  1. The United States must withdraw its naval forces from the Persian Gulf, closing all US military installations (land, sea, air, and intelligence) in the Gulf region.
  1. The United States must cease cyber-intervention in internal Iranian affairs and the affairs of its friends and allies.
  1. The United States must end all sanctions against Iran and its citizens and promote and encourage open trade and exchanges between Iran and other countries.
  1. The United States must cease its overt and covert support for the Saudi intervention in Yemen and work toward a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
  1. The United States must end its threatening behavior against Iran and its allies in the Middle East.
  1. The United States must end its support for authoritarian regimes—including Turkey, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Hungary—that suppress the rights of their citizens and residents.
  1. The United States must cease its military interference in more than 80 countries, using its Special Operations forces.
  1. The United States must end its support of the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu and demand that Israel end the expansion of settlements in Palestinian territory, cease its attacks on innocent civilians in Gaza, and engage seriously with the Palestinian Authority in negotiations leading to a two-state solution. The United States must return its embassy to Tel Aviv pending the creation of a Palestinian state and the resolution both of the status of Jerusalem and the right of return for the Palestinian people.

Equally unreasonable? Unnegotiable? Gee, the above sounds a bit like Pompeo’s list. It’s always useful, though, to try to see the world from the other person’s perspective.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Gordon Adams

Gordon Adams is Professor Emeritus at the School of International Service, American University and, since 2008, a Distinguished Fellow (non-resident) at the Stimson Center both in Washington, DC. He taught at American University and George Washington University from 1999-2015. From 1993-97 he was Associate Director for National Security Programs at the Office of Management and Budget, the senior Clinton White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets. He is the co-editor of Mission Creep: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy (Georgetown, 2014), co-author of Buying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for Its Global Role and Safety at Home (Routledge, 2010), and author of The Iron Triangle: The Politics of Defense Contracting (Transaction Press 1981). He was founder and Director of the Defense Budget Project from 1983-93. He has a Ph.D from Columbia University. He writes frequently on foreign policy and national security issues for a wide variety of publications. He is also a working professional actor.



  1. …what is good for the goose is good for the gander! The super power myth is a neurological condition with most monolithic governments…

  2. When I look back the what has happened in this country, the American government agencies have a to answer for. The Iranian people elected Dr Mossadegh who then was pushed out because he was a patriot and not a traitor to his people or his country. The US also supported the Iraqis government when they invaded Iran in 1980s and provided them with all he asked for including chemical weapons. They then went out of their way to stop UN condemning his chemical attacks against Iranian and Kurdish people. They vetoed all motions to bring the Iraqis to answer for what they did.

    I can fully understand why the Iranian leaders and people do not trust the American government. Non one in their right mind would.

  3. A powerful critique of US’ arrogant and self-serving policies that have already backfired all over from North Korea to Venezuela to Iran. This White House war party is a throwback to feudalism and out of touch with reality the more they press the more they hurt US interests.

  4. Iran has already issued their own 12 demands, they’re listed in the Tehran Times. Naturally the US media ignored it because there can’t possibly be an Iranian side to things.

Comments are closed.