KT Edit: Iran nuclear deal should involve regional players

Dubai - Iran has been the single most destabilising factor in the Middle East.

By Team KT

Published: Mon 1 Mar 2021, 11:26 PM

America’s exit from the nuclear deal in 2018 and sanctions that followed did little to coerce Iran to change its behaviour in the region. The hardliners in Tehran, on the contrary, have become more confident about their nuclear leverage and the long-term sustainability of the resistance economy. It might even see an economic recovery in 2021, which could further bolster the confidence of the leadership. Over the last few years, Iran has invested in building a more inward-looking economy that is less reliant on foreign trade, especially with the West. The regime has even engaged to ramp up nuclear activities and missile programme. Why would it then want to be a part of any deal that brings world attention and inspection to its doorsteps? On Sunday, it did not surprise when Iran rejected the offer to negotiate with the United States. The meeting was proposed by the Europeans in a bid to bring the US and Iran back to the table and set the ball rolling on resuscitating the nuclear deal, which the US had exited nearly three years ago under former president Donald Trump.

Iran has been the single most destabilising factor in the Middle East. The belligerent leadership sees no merit in negotiations or calls for peace in the region. It views all propositions by Western leaders as political domination of the country by the West. The country has already indicated expanding the nuclear programme by resuming uranium enrichment to a 20 per cent level, which is much higher than the 3.7 per cent limit prescribed by the 2015 deal. The open defiance to international expectations is also evident through recent activities of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has ramped up its naval military operations in the Arabian Gulf and targeted maritime trade routes through the Strait of Hormuz. In January, the IRGC seized a South Korean-flagged vessel. It could be in reaction to the freezing of $7 billion in Iranian funds because of US sanctions.

Iran’s imperialism in the region must be checked. Tehran cannot be allowed to develop its nuclear and missile programme. But the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, wasn’t a solution. The pact wasn’t really an arms-control agreement with its short-lived timelines. Any plans to revive or renegotiate the nuclear deal with Iran must involve regional countries, who have a higher stake in ensuring peace and stability in the region. This time when Europe and the US sit together, they should include the GCC too.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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