Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal claimed “confidential” IAEA report says that Iran has started producing Uranium metal. The material can be used to form the core of nuclear weapons. Report said that Iran claimed it is producing it for research purposes…
Two days earlier, Ali Khamenei drew what seemed like a line in the sand. “Americans and Europeans have no right to set any conditions as they violated their JCPOA commitments” Iran’s Leader said the country will only retrace its nuclear countermeasures once the United States lifts its sanctions.
Before that, many reports that Biden is being advised to unilaterally remove “some” financial sanctions on Iran. Possibly indirect ones through European allies. Then what? Will the Ayatollah bite? His statements seem to indicate that he will not. And if they refused an old Trump offer, as Zarif says, why should they accept a new Trump offer?
So, some Iranian officials think Biden is being tempted by his advisers to take advantage of the effects (meaning successes?) of the Trump pressures. Effectively continuing the failed policy of “Maximum Pressure”, as he waits for the Iranians to buckle. They don’t seem ready to buckle yet. So how is this different from the Trump approach? Which is a punishment by starvation approach that was encouraged by three of Trump’s despotic Persian Gulf pals.
So, we may have the usual schoolyard standoff: Who hit or cussed the other first? Which one preceded (that one is obvious)?
Israeli PM Netanyahu has been predicting since the 1990s that Iran is a few weeks away from making a nuclear bomb. He hasn’t been saying so lately, which in itself is an ominous silence. Some European signatories, who have spent four years urging Trump to go back to the nuclear deal, now prefer pushing Biden to adopt Trump’s policy. Predictably, the Trump policy as urged on my some Arab potentates and Netanyahu has brought Iran closer to a bomb capability than ever before. If the Iranians see that the Western powers are united in reneging on the JCPOA, they will likely have two options:
(1) buckle down to the same pressures that Trump applied, or (2) be tempted to go for the next viable alternative. The fear now is, or should be, that Biden is pushing them toward an alternative. The Iranians, if the hardliners win the presidency next summer, may contemplate the extremist and dangerous North Korean path. The latter may be used as a casus belli, pushing Biden (and the Israelis) to war. So, back to a more destructive war than the regional wars that everybody claims they want to avoid.
That would be terrible for the Persian Gulf region and the wider Middle East region.
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum