An Update On The Iran Nuclear Deal

On November 29th, 2021, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made an urgent request to world leaders to continue to put pressure on Iran’s nuclear program and not lift the current sanctions. These remarks came amidst nuclear negotiations that were set to resume on Monday concerning the situation in Tehran. This move marks a further escalation in the diplomatic tensions between Iran and Israel.

Earlier this year, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Iran on the UN General Assembly floor of violating all of its pre-existing nuclear treaties. In my previous article, I covered both the current conflict and the history surrounding it and ultimately concluded that the nature of this conflict only further escalated when either side disregarded diplomatic measures and focused on nationalist interests. With all that in mind, let’s take a closer examination of this recent escalation.

The recent Vienna talks that involved Israel, Iran, Russia, China, and the EU hoped to achieve the goal of restoring the previous Obama administration deal. With that being said, the United States was not involved in these talks (and instead participated through mediators), as the Iranian administration refused to meet with the U.S. after Trump’s 2018 pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or its more well-known name, the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Trump pulled out of the deal after concerns that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was not able to effectively enforce the deal. Ignoring the UN and traditional U.S. allies’ support for the deal, Trump enacted new, harsher sanctions on Iran to prevent them from gaining a nuclear weapon. In response, Iran increased its production of enriched uranium during the Trump administration and now amasses a stockpile of uranium that is way above the previous JCPOA accords. While the talks are still ongoing, U.S. news outlets have reported that Russian, Chinese, and EU diplomats have all expressed frustration and dismay with the task.

Iran’s new hardline government insisted two weeks ago that the previous positions outlined in the JCPOA could all be renegotiated, and over the past week, they barely inched back from their original position. All of this makes Israel’s concerns about “nuclear blackmail” understandable. It should be noted, however, that even if Iran were to somehow re-agree to the JCPOA, Israel has always been a vocal opponent of the deal. With that being said, the Biden administration has announced (according to the Washington Post) that they have other “tools” to use with Iran if the talks fail.

Britain has announced that they are “absolutely determined” to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, and if these tools were to fail, they would “look at all options.” These “tools” and “options” are likely going to be additional sanctions on top of the previous international sanctions that were lifted as part of the initial JCPOA (which lifted some sanctions in exchange for rollbacks of Iran’s nuclear program and agreements with international agencies to monitor the nation). Overall though, the situation looks dire.

While Israel’s concerns about a nuclear Iran and the Middle Eastern nuclear arms race that would follow are certainly legitimate, there should be something to be said about the nature of this conflict. The 2018 Trump JCPOA pullout was heavily supported by the Israeli administration at the time, and historically, it’s well documented that unilateral attempts to solve this conflict only lead to ever-increasing tensions. While Iran’s recent refusal to work with multinational groups is certainly dismaying, it is not that surprising when considering that it is likely that they do not trust the international community after the Trump pullout, and therefore are looking towards nuclear weapons as a way of maintaining some semblance of national legitimacy.

While I certainly condemn the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it tends to occur when nations feel insecure, and thus the inability of the international community to uphold their agreements likely plays into this very proliferation. Overall, the current situation is not optimistic for peace in the Middle East, and in the likely scenario that these Iranian nuclear talks fail, the people of Iran might once again be subjected to harsh sanctions by the international community.

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