America’s Politics Behind Re-Igniting the Iranian Nuclear File

A fresh round of talks on the Iranian nuclear deal were initiated in Vienna on Monday 29 November 2021 against a backdrop of US and European pledges to Israel casting off the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Israeli defence minister Naftali Bennett announced during a security conference that his country was not party to the negotiations and thus was not bound by it. Iran for her part has deliberately let it slip that she had increased the level of enrichment in her stockpile and acquired 30 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60% purity, which was interpreted as a reduction of the break-out time, i.e., the period Iran needs to produce weapons grade enriched uranium to develop a nuclear weapon, from 12 months, as was the case under the nuclear deal, to 11 months currently as per the statement of the Arms Control Association.

According to what has been declared, the diplomatic ignition of these talks, which had been suspended for six months, aims to gauge Iran’s readiness to “negotiate in good faith”, as a host of intransigent statements had been issued by her new leadership on the need to lift the sanctions imposed by the former US administration that have paralysed the Iranian economy and prohibited any commercial and financial dealings with Iran.

However, although Joe Biden’s administration has been gearing towards concluding a deal with Iran to induce her into fulfilling the demands of the Israeli and the right-wing evangelical Christians’ in the US, and gifting the Democrats an achievement they could invest in the November midterm elections, it nevertheless refuses to grant Iran any incentives in exchange for attending the talks, and intends only to lift a few sanctions.

This was deduced from the messages of reassurance America sent to her five partners in the talks and from the statements of her clients in the Gulf who called for the need to restore the nuclear deal, by holding several meetings as part of an intensive diplomatic campaign. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley tweeted on 18 November 2021 that he had “met with the E3 political directors and senior officials from Egypt, Jordan, and the GCC to discuss 2 paths open to Iran: continued nuclear escalation & crisis, or mutual return to the JCPOA, creating opportunities for regional economic & diplomatic ties.” He also exhorted the Iranian leadership to fulfil the requirements of the deal by saying “time to choose is short.”

This is reflected in the statements of US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, who attended the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue and confirmed “if advances in Iran’s nuclear program and enrichment capability continue unabated, they could render the benefits of the JCPOA moot – a development that would force the U.S. to pursue other options.” And in a message designed to reassure Israel and its supporters in America, Brett McGurk added that “when it comes to military force to prevent a country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, that is a very achievable objective.”

By observing the developments of the Iranian nuclear file, we deduce that the US concluded it during the “Arab Spring” and within the context of exerting pressure on bin Salman to speed up the process of liberal openness, pressurising the Arab regimes and preparing them to integrate into the regional solution, which necessitated shifting the compass of belligerence away from Israel and towards the Iranian threat to the region, and containing Netanyahu, who was at the time eager to attack Iran for personal and partisan motives. This prompted former US President Barack Obama to pledge to Israel that if all the options were exhausted, the US Central Command would attack Iran; and back then, the US defence secretary showed Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak a video of “anti-fortification” bombs especially designed against Iran.

As the Trump administration initiated the “Deal of the Century” and set about smashing the obstacle impeding the process of alliance and normalisation with Israel, Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, induced Iran’s threat to the Arab countries through her surrogates in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria, and instructed the UAE, Morocco, Sudan, and Bahrain to conclude direct agreements with Israeli .

It also escalated tensions with Iran by launching a flurry of fiery statements, assassinating Qassim Suleimani and inviting Israel to join the US Central Command, in order to contain the Israeli rightwing and Netanyahu who was obsessed with his electoral premonitions, and terrify Saudi Arabia which was subjected to intensive attacks by the Houthis.

When Biden and his political team, who had initially concluded the nuclear deal with Iran, acceded to power, America conspired to let the Iranian conservative wing win the elections in order to tame its partisan and popular bases with sanctions and compel it into acquiescing to the entire American project for the Middle East, and then move towards concluding a deal that would help Iran end her isolation and tackle her deteriorating economy, while fulfilling the volition of Western powers and the need of Biden and the Democrats for a political achievement that would boost their electoral credentials. This would also dampen the aspirations of the Iranian conservatives and weaken their popular bases and surrogates in the region, especially as the former deal froze the Iranian nuclear project without dismantling it altogether, and left a vacuum that needs to be filled in the future on the monitoring mechanism and the dismantling of equipment.

Hence, the point at issue is not the Iranian project as such, but rather the Iranian role in the Greater Middle East Initiative and its repositioning to the rhythm of US policy towards the region, once it has been dismantled and restructured to preserve US national security that is epitomised in controlling the oil resources and in the military base within the heart of the Islamic world, namely the usurping entity.

As for the details, tactics, and timing, these are dictated by the realities on the ground and by the tackling of the fallouts of the Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) such as America’s U-turn on destroying the ruling regimes after they had broken the taboos and expressed their willingness to impose the integration of Israel on the masses of the region. This was revealed by Brett McGurk in Manama who said that America had ditched the policy of “nation building” and changing the regimes that appeared in the Middle East after 9/11.

Therefore, the current round of talks will either lead to a resolution requiring an Iranian compliance with the demands of the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), which includes allowing inspectors to return and service the surveillance cameras at the Iranian nuclear sites and granting the NEA the right to visit those sites, or to the agency issuing a report admonishing Iran’s behaviour, thus giving the Biden administration ample time to finalise the structuring of the regimes in Yemen, Lebanon and Syria, speed up the process of political transformation in Saudi, and acclimatise Israeli public opinion and the government of Bennett according to the requirements of the regional settlement.

The latest political stimulation could pave the way for a solution which will set the conservative Iranian leadership back to square one, and for embarking on settling the crisis in parallel with the progress in solving the regional files as was the case in Iraq where Prime Minister al-Kadhimi has made great strides in returning the political balance and downsizing Iranian influence, in addition to Syria where the rehabilitation of the regime is underway. This explains the statement of the US negotiating team in which it said that the Council would have no choice but to reconvene in an extraordinary session before the end of the year to tackle the crisis.

The omens of Iran’s response were reflected in the statement of Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri, who told Iranian television that Iran “calls for guarantees from America that she would neither impose fresh sanctions nor reimpose the previous sanctions.” In fact, successive US administrations have maintained the general strategy in dealing with the Iranian file despite the change of tactics, such as pulling out of the deal during the tenure of President Donald Trump, with the aim of achieving a wider restructuring of the regimes of the region through the presence of an enemy called Iran.

The US administration has harnessed sanctions against Iran to tackle the Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, and Yemeni file; the Iranian nuclear project has also been harnessed by Washington to speed up the process of military, diplomatic and economic integration. Hence, America would not find it hard to conjure up a solution which would bring the Iranian military nuclear programme to a grinding halt, replace it with a civil and peaceful nuclear energy programme and link it to the requirements of environmental policy. This would probably take place sooner rather than later as the US administration is engrossed in midterm elections, and especially as the Biden administration is facing severe criticism from the Republicans due to its slackness in keeping the tempo of pressure on Iran such as the military, security, and intelligence campaigns, and tightening financial and commercial sanctions to deal the interests of the Iranian regime a heavy blow.

Copyright © LCIR 2021

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