Offer more to prevent Iran from going nuclear | Nuclear energy
The recent escalation of the “shadow war” between Israel and Iran suggests that, like it or not, the Biden administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are not sustainable without the support of Israel and its Gulf allies, namely Saudi Arabia and the United States. United Arab Emirates (UAE).
If Israel continues to attack Iran after Biden revived the old deal – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently suggested Israel would – Iran may decide to abandon the deal, declaring the war on Israel, or even to go ahead and develop nuclear weapons in response. Furthermore, securing follow-up agreements to limit Iran’s ballistic missile arsenal or its proxy warfare activities would become virtually impossible. Neither of these results is desirable. To avoid them, Biden must go further by making a deal that allays Israeli and Saudi fears that Iran might get the bomb even after signing a deal, and Iranian concerns that Israel might continue to attack Iran itself. if Tehran agrees not to store any more enriched. uranium.
As part of a new offensive to hamper Iran’s nuclear efforts that began last summer, Israel staged attacks on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, assassinated Iranian scientists, and crippled sections of the Iranian power grid. . These attacks also resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Iran. Netanyahu suggested that this campaign will continue even if Washington and Tehran renew the 2015 nuclear deal, declaring “with or without a deal, we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that you (Iran) do not arm yourself with weapons.” nuclear ”.
Iran, meanwhile, has built a huge arsenal of increasingly precise ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets throughout Israel and the Arabian Peninsula. It transmitted thousands of its shorter-range missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is now believed that Hezbollah has over 100,000 missiles and Iran is helping to make them much more accurate. When Hezbollah last entered war with Israel in 2006, it left 165 Israelis dead and more than 1,000 Lebanese, hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced on both sides and billions in damage. A war today would probably be much worse.
Tehran regime remains desperate for economic sanctions relief, which is why Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was careful not to accuse Washington of complicity in criticizing Israel for its April 11 attack on the underground nuclear facility by Natanz. Rather than using Tehran’s rhetoric of an “American-Zionist alliance,” Zarif described the attack on Natanz’s installation as an attempt to sabotage negotiations between Washington and Tehran.
Iran is eager to strike a new nuclear deal because it knows that without swift and comprehensive sanctions relief, its economy and regime could soon collapse. Nevertheless, it will not stop its efforts to enrich ever more uranium, whatever the political and economic costs, if Israel continues its attacks.
This means that if the Biden administration wants a lasting deal with Iran, it will have to broaden the appeal of its negotiations to include the concerns of Israel and the Gulf state. When Israel says it opposes the current sunset clauses in the nuclear deal, that means the enrichment must stop. What could satisfy this Israeli demand? The UAE adheres to the “gold standard” of civilian nuclear agreements by not enriching or reprocessing nuclear material that could be used to produce power reactor fuel as well as nuclear weapons. The United States has asked the same of Saudi Arabia. Could Iran be convinced to do the same?
Washington’s best hope of getting Iran to agree to stop enrichment completely and indefinitely is to offer it more for more. Rather than simply keeping Israel and other regional powers “informed of developments” in their negotiations with Iran to lift certain sanctions for certain nuclear restrictions, the United States should negotiate indirect talks between Iran. , Israel and the Gulf States on how best to turn off nuclear competition in the region. Certainly Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia have more of a say in whether the bomb spreads throughout the Middle East than Germany, Britain or Russia.
In exchange for a gold standard deal with Iran, would Israel agree to end its attacks on Iran? Could Saudi Arabia agree to a gold standard deal if Iran did? Would Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates agree to buy fewer fighter jets with precision guided bombs and buy more defensive systems, such as missile, anti-drone and anti-missile defense systems? ships? Could the United States, its European allies and regional powers in the Middle East establish a framework for non-nuclear energy cooperation (i.e. on renewables, pipelines, grid connections) to make nuclear power even less economically viable than it already is?
Bolder, could Israel eventually agree to eliminate its arsenal of nuclear weapons if Iran dismantles its nuclear bomb program and the possibility of others going nuclear – such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey – is eliminated by gold standard agreements and additional limits?
These are, of course, big demands. But it is unlikely that the search for less will not permanently limit the nuclear planning underway in the region. If we want more, we have to offer more.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.