Pakistan must carefully monitor the significant changes taking place all along its borders. One of them concerns Iran, which seems to be reconfiguring its relations with the Arab world and also strengthening its ability to counter Israel’s increased aggression.
According to New York Times columnist Thomas L Freedman, “President Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 — a move demanded by his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — was the one of America’s dumbest, ill-thought-out, and most counterproductive post-Cold War national security decisions. Friedman wasn’t the only one to criticize Trump’s decision.
Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s former defense minister who held the post when Trump moved on, told a conference in late December 2021 that “as bad as this deal was Trump’s decision to walk away from it — with the Netanyahu’s encouragement was even worse.” The IAEA reported that Iran had amassed enough enriched uranium hexafluoride to build a bomb within weeks. Iran’s escape deadline under the agreement signed by President Obama was one year. The time to switch to nuclear power has been reduced to a few weeks.
President Biden wanted to change course and persuaded Iran to return to the negotiating table in Vienna with the parties that had left the JCPOA – China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain – sitting with Tehran at the same table but the Americans seated in an adjoining room. The new conservative government in Tehran wanted all sanctions imposed on Iran to be lifted. The Tehran regime was particularly interested in lifting sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
According to Friedman, Biden was dealing with a bad hand. By focusing on exiting the Middle East — starting with Afghanistan — Biden hasn’t struck fear into the hearts of Iranians. The Israelis were afraid that the American president would strike a weak deal; instead they would have liked to put on the table the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordinance Penetrator which is a 30,000 pound bomb that could blow up any mountain hiding Iranian nuclear facilities. But such a blow would have an impact on the price of oil.
In the United States, several voices have urged Biden to strike a nuclear deal with Tehran. One of them was that of Peter Beinart, professor of journalism and political science at the Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York and, more importantly, editor of Currents, a major Jewish magazine that spoke on behalf of a portion of the US Jewish community. “President Biden has the chance to avert a nuclear crisis that could push the United States to the brink of war and threaten the coalition he has formed to counter Russia,” he wrote in an article. opinion for the New York Times. A deal with Iran is vital, as Tehran, freed from the constraints of the deal, races towards the ability to build a nuclear bomb. What was preventing the Biden administration from redoing the deal Trump pulled out of was the previous administration’s designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization. Tehran wanted the designation removed. The Biden administration has refused to fulfill this condition. Congress did not facilitate this step. On May 4, 2022, no less than 62 senators, including 16 Democrats, passed a non-binding motion opposing the removal of the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorism list. The body was already under several sanctions. That wasn’t the only promise Biden made during the campaign that he failed to keep. He had not moved on Cuba and Palestine and had not reversed the tariffs imposed on imports from China by the Trump administration. Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the International Crisis Group, predicted that if the nuclear deal is not revived and Iran continues to enrich uranium at its current rate, til the fall of 2022, it would only take a few days to build a nuclear power plant. bomb. Beinart concluded, “On Iran, the Biden administration wants to play it safe. It is not possible. It’s better to just do what’s right.
On June 17, 2022, The New York Times reported that Israeli and American intelligence agencies were closely monitoring construction activities south of the Natanz nuclear site where the Iranians appeared to be working to build tunnels in the mountains. “By most accounts, Iran is closer to being able to produce a bomb today than at any other time in the two-decade saga of its nuclear program – even if it plans, as many officials believe of national security, to stop before producing a live bomb weapon,” the newspaper wrote in its cover. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were able to draw up the broad outlines of the nuclear development program that Iran seemed The country was taking several steps.
The program began after the Israelis were able to recruit Iranians willing to work for them. They placed explosive devices to blow up an important site. Since then, the Iranians have been working at a site called Fordow, built under a mountain on a base held by the Revolutionary Guards. It is planned to install 1,000 advanced IR6 centrifuges at the new site, in addition to those already in operation. What worries Iranian observers is the revelation by the International Atomic Energy Commission that Tehran has turned off 27 cameras allowing its inspectors to see the country’s production facilities. The agreement brokered by President Obama, from which his successor Donald Trump withdrew his country, limited Tehran’s ability to install new centrifuges and required it to ship 97% of its nuclear fuel out of the country. What was clear to intelligence experts was Tehran’s intention to use the new facility to build the centrifuges and rebuild the facilities the Israelis destroyed. Iran had pushed its uranium enrichment to a level of 60% which is just short of what is needed to produce a weapon.
The Israelis had used the assassination of Iranian scientists as a weapon against Iran’s nuclear program. The targets were less well known than Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was believed to be the guiding intellect of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and was killed in an Israeli-led automated ambush in late 2020. According to General Kenneth F McKenzie, who before taking his retired as head of US Central Command, the real crown jewels for Iran are ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones.
Israel’s attempt to hurt Iran on many fronts has accelerated as Tehran has shown reluctance to rejoin the agreement signed with President Obama. On June 23, 2022, news broke that Iran had sacked Hossein Taeb, the longtime intelligence chief of the Revolutionary Guards, considered one of the most powerful figures in the country. The government appears to have responded to Israel’s covert war against Iran’s defense systems and nuclear program. Taeb’s removal after 13 years in the post was seen as a major milestone by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “He failed to stop Israel’s infiltration and didn’t have much success in retaliatory operations outside the borders,” said Seyed Peyman Taheri, an analyst close to the Iranian government. “His withdrawal is to bring in new blood and get those two things under control.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4e2022.
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