Iran is raising the stakes

With the US demonstrating weakness across the Middle East, images of US destroyers in the Persian Gulf are not enough to instill panic in Tehran.

 By  Oded Granot, ISRAEL HAYOM

US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for Iran Robert Malley landed in Israel Saturday to coordinate steps ahead of the return to nuclear talks with Tehran at the end of the month but also to allay Israeli concerns regarding US intentions should the talks fail. Israeli officials are doubtful understandings can still be reached with Washington but are nevertheless convinced all those involved will emerge anxious from this visit.

Claims this conclusion is due to the personality of the man serving as US special envoy are not serious. While Malley was one of the ardent architects of the original nuclear accord, he is a Biden appointment, and the latter has already decided an agreement with Iran is preferable to any other option.

It is a little bit difficult to understand why Washington has found it difficult to decipher the secret of Tehran’s tough behavior on the nuclear issue thus far: At first, the Islamic Republic raced to enrich uranium to military-grade levels, which has resulted in Tehran acquiring 25 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60% thus far. Then, Iran dragged its feet for months before agreeing to return to Vienna. Finally, the Iranians demanded nearly impossible conditions ahead of the next round of talks.

Take, for example, the insistence from the Iranian deputy foreign minister and the man who will head the country’s delegation to Vienna Ali Bagheri Kani, that talks do not touch on the accord and its clauses but rather focus solely on the full and immediate withdrawal of sanctions on Iran. Take also, for example, Iran’s demand the US guarantee it never again withdraws from the deal, or its obstinate refusal to extend the expiration date of the original accord, something that will free Iran to do as it wishes in the nuclear realm in the not-so-distant future.

The explanation for the Iranian stubbornness ahead of the renewed talks is simple: The Iranians immediately recognized not only Biden’s strong desire to return to the deal abandoned by his predecessor former US President Donald Trump but also the many signs of weakness he has been sending on US foreign policy: the hasty retreat from Afghanistan, the inhibited response to the attack on the US military base in southern Syria, the strange restraint in the face of the attempt by pro-Iranian militias to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi after Iran loyalists failed to gain power in parliamentary elections there. And the list goes on.

Faced with all this, the Iranians, shrewd traders as they are, have allowed themselves to raise the stakes ahead of the return to nuclear talks in Vienna. No, they are most certainly not panicking over images of US destroyers making their way to the Persian Gulf in a display of forces supposedly alluding to the military option.

Alongside their tough stance, the Iranians have also offered us a glimpse into their own quirky sense of humor: Should the US roll back all the sanctions, they have promised to ratify the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Iran is the world’s eighth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases and one of the few countries not to sign the agreement. From this, we are to understand that if the world allows Tehran to threaten world peace with a nuclear cloud, they will kindly agree to renounce their contribution to the carbon dioxide cloud.

Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain will all try this week to clarify to Biden’s special envoy the great inherent risk in signing a terrible deal with Iran that fails to tie its hands in the nuclear or ballistic missile fields or its efforts toward regional subversion. Whether or not these attempts will succeed remains in question.

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November 15, 2021 | 1 Comment »

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