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Is the Iran nuclear deal worth salvaging?

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After nearly 17 months of diplomatic wrangling, there may be a glimmer of hope for a nuclear deal with Iran. On Wednesday, US officials said they had responded to Iran’s comments on a draft EU-led deal that would salvage the 2015 deal over Tehran’s nuclear program. The deal in response to the documents could precede another round of talks in Vienna aimed at restoring the terms of the original deal, which severely limited Iran’s ability to enrich fissile material to weapons-grade levels in exchange for an easing of sanctions.

Those conditions were unilaterally broken by former President Donald Trump in 2018, who rejected a deal reached by the Obama administration and other international powers, even though Iran is seen as abiding by its restrictions. The move was met with opposition from European, Chinese and Russian signatories to the deal, but also hostility towards Iran from some regional powers – including Israel, led by the right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Arabia’s Arab support for the Arab monarchy. Arabs and United Arab Emirates.

The Trump administration at the time, Claims that Iran dare not restart Its nuclear activities prohibited. But in 2019, with no incentive not to, Iran installed faster centrifuges at its facilities and began enrichment activities that violated the agreement. Under the 2015 deal, the so-called “breakthrough” time for Iran to make enough fuel for a possible nuclear bomb is measured in months, or even closer to a year. It’s only a few weeks away now, according to officials and analysts.

Biden, who takes office in 2021, has pledged to return to the deal and curb Iran’s surge in uranium enrichment. But domestic politics intervened in both countries – a deal to immediately lift sanctions on Iran would not work in Washington, while hardliners in Tehran, who had long opposed the original deal and doubted the value of any diplomacy with the Americans, were swept away. Empty the so-called “reformist-pragmatist” camp of the regime during the elections. An opinion poll on Iran’s attitudes this summer found that less than half of Iranians polled believed the deal would resume, while more than two-thirds expressed doubts the United States would hold. their promises.

Biden’s Iranian envoy Robert Marley warned in an interview with The New Yorker late last year that the Iranians were “gutting our negotiated nonproliferation deal.” He acknowledged that at some point in the future, diplomacy on the issue would be “like trying to resuscitate a corpse”.

US responds to Iran’s latest demands to revive nuclear deal

Obviously, the Biden administration doesn’t think we’re at that point yet. But the prospect of the deal reviving has reignited heated debate around its original brokerage business. Republican lawmakers have expressed outrage at any deal without congressional scrutiny. Israeli media on Thursday quoted the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency Mossad, David Barnea, as saying the impending deal would be “a strategic disaster”. A flurry of comments from Israel’s political elite, including Prime Minister Yar Rapid, urged the United States to withdraw from the negotiating table.

There is no small irony in their current objections. Trump broke the deal at Netanyahu’s instigation in 2018, even though “there was a clear consensus within Israel’s security and defense establishment at the time that leaving the deal was a Huge mistake,” wrote Haaretz reporter Amir Tibon. Now, he added, it could be replaced by a deal that “some experts warn…worse for Israel and create a more dangerous Middle East.”

“Opponents of the new agreement between Israel and Congress have said that lifting nuclear-related sanctions would provide Iran with hundreds of billions of dollars in terrorist financing, and the early expiration of some of its provisions would allow the ‘Iran to quickly restart its nuclear weapons program,’ reports my colleague Karen DeYoung.

“Administration officials questioned dollar calculations and said reinstating restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, even with an expiration date, would bring several years of relief from the looming nuclear threat and room for new negotiations,” she added. .

Iran nuclear talks resume in last-ditch effort to seal deal

The Trump administration and fellow travelers on the deal are reaping the seeds they sowed“Not only did their actions come close to starting a war, but because of the missteps of the Trump administration, Iran has expanded its nuclear program in an unprecedented way,” Holly Dagres, senior researcher at the Security Council, told me. ‘Atlantic. “Love or hate the JCPOA” – an acronym for the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers – “is the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons”.

Dagres added that if Trump did not walk away from the deal, the “confidence-building activities” inherent in the JCPOA would continue, potentially leading to negotiations on other fronts. “It’s unclear whether these discussions are constructive, but it’s safe to say that Iran will not be viewed as a nuclear threshold state like some people today,” she said.

However, the Washington hawks got what they wanted. “In itself, [the Trump administration’s decision to leave the deal] It was very successful,” said John Gazvinian, director of the Middle East Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

It removes any prospect of rapprochement between Tehran and Washington, strengthens cooperation between Israel and US Gulf allies, and increases the likelihood of future covert Israeli or even US action against Iran. New tensions have emerged that have defined a difficult situation to manage – from Iran’s violent plots abroad, from the belligerence of its proxies in the Middle East to US retaliation, including the Iranian-backed attack this week in northeast Syria. Strike of the factions.

Right now, the Iranian regime and the Biden administration are “just trying to meet their most basic and urgent needs.” Gazvinian told me. The Biden administration wants to curb Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons, while Iran welcomes the easing of sanctions on its economy and oil exports.

Gazvinian, author of “America and Iran: A History from 1720 to the Present,” points out that the world is not the same as it was in 2015 or 2009, when the Obama administration embarked in a diplomatic process with European partners, as well as Russia and China on the Iranian nuclear issue. program. “We got so caught up in the details of the nuclear issue that we wrote it to death, forgetting what the biggest point is” – he says, the Obama administration thinks the nuclear deal can throw the basis for a broader strategic dialogue that addresses concerns about destabilizing activities in Iran.

Such a dialogue is nowhere in sight, and strategists in both countries have long shifted their priorities – in Washington, away from the Middle East; in Tehran, for better relations with some of its neighbors and closer ties with China. Ghazvinian, speaking of the nuclear deal and the broader divide between the United States and Iran, said it was difficult to “resolve an unusually complex technical problem in the context of an unusually dysfunctional political climate” . “We have to go beyond the JCPOA, we have to go beyond.”

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