After a five month hiatus, indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States resumed last week in Vienna to try to revise 2015 Iran nuclear agreement (formally known as JCPOA or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The outlook isn’t good.
Within a week of the start of negotiations, Britain, France and Germany were already at the table. accused Iran of “walking back almost all of the difficult compromises” achieved during the first round of negotiations before Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn into office. While such actions by Iran certainly aren’t helping the negotiations succeed, there is another country — one that is not even a party to the agreement that was ripped up in 2018 by then president Donald Trump — whose hard-line position is creating obstacles to successful negotiations: Israel.
On Sunday, amid reports that the talks might collapse, Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett called on the countries meeting in Vienna to “take a strong line” against Iran. According to Channel 12News in Israel, Israeli officials urging the United StatesTo take military action against Iran by either striking directly Iran or hitting an Iranian base in Yemen. Regardless of the negotiations’ outcome, Israel says that it reserves the right to take militaryIran must be dealt with.
Israeli threats aren’t just bluster. Between 2010-2012, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, presumably by Israel. A fire will be lit in July 2020 attributed to an Israeli bomb, caused significant damage to Iran’s Natanz nuclear site. Israeli operatives used remote control machine guns in November 2020, just after Joe Biden won his presidential election. assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist. Had Iran retaliated proportionately, the United States might have backed up Israel, with the conflict spiraling into a full-blown US–Middle East war.
As diplomatic efforts between the Biden administrations and Iran were in progress, April 2021 saw sabotage attributed solely to Israel. blackout at Natanz. Iran described the action as “nuclear terrorism.”
Ironically described as Iran’s Build Back Better plan, after each of Israel’s nuclear facility sabotage actions, Iranians have quickly gotten their facilities back onlineThey even installed newer machines to accelerate the enrichment of uranium. American officials were able to recently warnedTheir Israeli counterparts believe that attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities is counterproductive. But Israel repliedIt is determined to continue its efforts.
Israel is being forced to close the JCPOA as the clock ticks down. sending its top-level officials outto present its case. Last week, the Israeli foreign minister Yair Lepid visited London and Paris to ask them not to support US plans to reopen the deal. This week, Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister, and David Barnea, the Israeli Mossad chief, are in Washington for meetings to discuss US defense secretary Lloyd Austin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. According to the Israeli Yedioth AhronothNewspaper, Barnea brought “updated intelligence on Tehran’s efforts” to become a nuclear country.
Israel is also preparing militarily, in addition to verbal appeals. They have allocated $1.5 billionThey are prepared to strike Iran. They held this position for the majority of October and November. large-scale military exercisesThey plan to hold one of their spring meetings in preparation for strikes against Iran. largest strike simulation drills ever, using dozens of aircraft, including Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet.
The United States is also preparing for violence. A week prior to the negotiations resuming in Vienna, the US’s top commander in the Middle East, General Kenneth McKenzie, announcedHis forces were ready to take up military action if the negotiations fail. It was reported Wednesday that Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz’s meeting with Lloyd Austin would include discussing possible joint US-Israeli military drills simulating the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Talks must succeed because there are many stakes. The International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), confirmed this month that Iran is now enriching uranium up to 20 percent purityFordo underground facility, a location where the JCPOA prohibits enrichment. According to the IAEATrump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA has seen Iran increase its uranium enrichment levels to 60% purity. This is compared with 3.67 percentThe deal allows for steady progress towards the required 90 percent to create a nuclear weapon. In September, the Institute for Science and International Security issued a report stating that, under the “worst-case breakout estimate,” within a month Iran could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon.
The US’s withdrawal from the JCPOA has not just led to the frightening prospect of another Middle East country becoming nuclear-armed (Israel reportedly). hasIt has already inflicted immense damage on the Iranian people, however (between eighty and four thousand nuclear weapons). The “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign — originally Trump’s but now under Joe Biden’s ownership — has plagued Iranians with runaway inflation; skyrocketing rent, food, and medicine costs; and a crippled health care sector.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, US sanctions were in place preventingIran is prohibited from importing medicines necessary to treat illnesses such as epilepsy and leukemia. In January 2021, the United Nations published a report stating that US sanctions on Iran were contributing to an “inadequate and opaque” response to COVID-19. Iran has registered more than 10033,000 deaths so far. highestNumber of coronavirus-related deaths in the Middle East. Officials believe that the real number is even higher.
If the United States and Iran are not able to reach an agreement, the worst-case scenario will be a new US–Middle East war. A war with Iran, considering the terrible failures and destruction caused by the Iraq-Afghan wars, would be disastrous. One would assume that Israel, which receives $3.8 million annually from the United States would feel obligated to not drag the United States and their people into such a disaster. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Although the talks were on the verge of collapse, they resumed this week. Iran, now under a hard-line government that US sanctions helped bring into power, has shown that it isn’t going to be an acquiescent negotiator, and Israel is hell-bent on sabotaging the talks. This means it’s going to take bold diplomacy and a willingness to compromise from the Biden administration to get the deal resealed. Let’s hope Biden and his negotiators have the will and courage to do that.