The Iran Dilemma: Who Will Blink First?

Amid all the indirect talks, the United States finally shared the details of the sanctions it is ready to lift under a return to a nuclear accord with Iran, as per the latest EU-led talks.

Amid all the indirect talks, the United States finally shared the details of the sanctions it is ready to lift under a return to a nuclear accord with Iran, as per the latest EU-led talks.

A senior US official said: “We have provided Iran with a number of examples of the kind of sanctions that we believe we would need to lift in order to come back into compliance and the sanctions that we believe we would not need to lift.”

The US has described a third category of “difficult cases” in which Trump re-imposed sanctions that are not related to nuclear activity but were done “purely for the purpose of preventing” Biden from re-entering the deal, he added.

Nonetheless, Iran started its enrichment of uranium amid tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Earlier this week, Iran announced its plan to enrich uranium up to 60%, as a response to the Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facility. Iranians believe that Israel and Washington want to restore the leverage that they once had over Tehran.

“Even today, if we wish, we can enrich uranium at 90% purity. But we are not seeking a nuclear bomb … If others return to full compliance with the deal … we will stop 60% and 20% enrichment.” said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In response, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced his concern regarding Iran’s proactive announcement on enrichment, doubting Tehran’s commitment to the Vienna talks.

Similarly, Britain, France, and Germany have expressed “grave concern” over Tehran’s “dangerous” announcement, saying it is “contrary to the constructive spirit and good faith” of ongoing efforts to revive the 2015 pact.

Hypocrisy of the United States

In fact, fears and suspicions of the international community from Tehran’s nuclear programme make sense, but it is clear that there are some attempts to over exaggerate the Iranian threat.

The hypocrisy of the US is clear when it comes to the nuclear file. While the US claims that Iran’s nuclear programme is a threat to its national security, it has never criticised Israel’s nuclear programme.

Tel Aviv has never signed and will never sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.

While Republicans have fears that reaching a deal with Iran will only be confined to its nuclear activities, and not including its backing for terrorism and its deteriorating human rights conditions, the U.S. itself has serious problems when it comes to human rights and democracy.

The recent shooting by Minnesota police that resulted in the death of a 20-year-old black man further exposes the myth about the US and its exceptional democratic values and principles.

The Trust Factor

Many Americans often ask, why do they hate us? The reason is the US’s history of getting directly involved in the internal matters of other countries and overthrowing democratically elected leaders for its own strategic purposes. Be it covert operations or policy initiatives, it has always tried to influence cultures and beliefs, and to shape the opinions and values of other countries. In the case of Iran, they aimed to dominate the country’s oil resources in order to control Soviet influence in the region.

In 1953, the US had a major role to play in overthrowing Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who had overwhelming public support. The Truman administration planned for a covert operation and a coup was implemented under Eisenhower’s rule. The nationalistic nature of public opinion which equated to the Russian and British forms of imperialism ran counter to American policies in the region and to mitigate this counterproductive mentality, the US planned its propaganda programmes to raise the desire of the Iranian people to resist communism.

The coup is seen as a cog in the wheel of Iran’s political development and it is obvious that the intervention in their internal matters was resented by Iranians. So, what the US thought was appropriate based on its global interests was actually a setback and gave rise to deep anti-American feelings in Iran.

Meanwhile, the recent escalation by Israel and arguably the US will block any progress. Since former US President Donald Trump exited from the deal, Iran has been viewing the West with suspicion. It seems that the recent escalation by the US and Tel Aviv will further deteriorate the situation.

Experts believe that now is the best time to address the nuclear crisis. Iran is scheduled to hold its presidential elections in June. Politically and internally speaking, President Hassan Rouhani had negotiated the nuclear deal and is relatively moderate, but Iran’s Revolutionary Guard had never accepted the accord and opposed it. Any progress on lifting the sanctions will benefit the moderates, as hardliners are simply going to oppose any deal that might help the former.

The best way out is to stay focused and exercise some amount of restraint and devise ways to get the deal back on the table even though returning to a deal made six years ago would not be easy.

Despite Biden’s promises to revive the nuclear deal, things are not easy as they seemed before he held power. There is no mutual trust especially after Iran’s decision to resume relations with China, the number one enemy for the United States. In March, President Biden said he had been “concerned for over a year” about the partnership. Many political experts opined that Iran and the US must resolve the lost trust and the brewing nuclear crisis before it’s too late.

In an attempt to improve its economic situation and to pressurise Washington, Tehran is cooperating with Beijing on economic, political, and social issues. “It is likely that such an agreement would have been made in any event, but doing it at this stage was a pushback against American aggressiveness toward both China and Iran,” said Richard Falk, a prominent expert on international relations and professor of international law at Princeton University.

Some European diplomats also fear that “the deal is effectively dead, and will essentially serve as a reference point for what may be a fundamentally new negotiation”. Iran wants relief from harsh economic sanctions “which starved its economy of more than $100 billion in revenues in 2012–2014 alone”. But as both the parties wait for the other to reciprocate individual efforts, the deal only covers nuclear sanctions and not measures adopted by the US in response to issues related to terrorism and human rights violations. If any of the above-mentioned preconditions is not met by either one of the two, significant signs of progress within this year seems unlikely and initiating a new normalisation process looks far from reality.

(With inputs from

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