Iran getting back its N-deal may not augur well for ME

Tehran may have its way and get a deal that is on its terms


Published: Wed 9 Feb 2022, 12:03 AM

Strong signals are emerging from Vienna talks about the possibility of reviving the defunct 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers. Ever since Joe Biden assumed charge as the US president in the beginning of 2021, his administration has been going out of his way to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — technical name for the nuclear deal — scrapped by his mercurial predecessor Donald Trump.

Iran, led by its recently elected (rather appointed by the supreme leader) hardline president Ebrahim Raisi, has been involved in tough posturing in a bid to extract as many concessions as possible from the world powers. To some extent, the clerical regime based in Tehran seems to be succeeding if indications from Vienna are anything to go by. Tehran may have its way and get a deal that is on its terms. This can only be blamed on the desperate world powers who by hook or crook wanted to reach an agreement with the hardline regime.

The near-certain deal will gradually bring the clerical regime into the mainstream of the international community. What will it portend for its Gulf neighbours? Will it not embolden the Tehran regime to stoke sectarian conflicts in the neighbourhood? This is the question that has been bothering its Arab neighbours and Israel.

The Gulf Cooperation Council always insisted the destabilising role of Iran and its missile capabilities should be part of the current and the previous rounds of nuclear negotiations.

Neither former US president Barack Obama nor current president Joe Biden paid heed to the concerns of the Gulf Arab nations. Iran’s lackeys — Shia militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen — have of late been upping their ante and raising the stakes with their increasing intransigence in the ongoing conflicts. The UAE got a bitter experience of it recently with Houthi militants attacking civilian facilities on its land. The reading on the wall is clear.

Truce with Tehran will only embolden it to do more of the same old sectarian strife. The Arab nations, especially the Gulf states, and Israel should get real. They should strengthen their defence and intelligence capabilities and forge strategic cooperation in checkmating a resurgent Iran post-nuclear agreement.

Iran is only weeks away from being able to enrich uranium to a level that is good enough for a nuclear bomb, according to reports. How will the expected revival of the nuclear deal cap this capability remains to be seen. It calls for very detailed and intrusive inspections to roll back this capability. Will Tehran oblige? Or will it hoodwink world powers with false and vaguely worded commitments? We should all wait until the final agreement is out.

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