If the US is really worried about a nuclear Iran, it would go back to JCPOA. But nukes are not at the core here
The US keeps fear mongering about the dangers of the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. Yet, it doesn’t rush to return to the JCPOA, suggesting the real fear of Iran stems from a completely different origin.
Tehran has repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to return to respecting its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if the US lifts economic sanctions against Iran imposed by the Trump administration. However, US President Joe Biden’s hesitancy on the matter has led to a diplomatic deadlock and resumption of hostile rhetoric.
The Obama-era JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal, was designed, from a Western perspective, to prevent Iran reaching a nuclear weapon. We are now at a stage where the alarmist rhetoric, coming from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top Israeli Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, predicts that Iran could develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons in the span of weeks to months. The question then would be, if there is truly a genuine fear of Iran quickly producing a nuclear bomb and potentially using it, then why would the US not be scrambling to re-enter the deal?
Whilst it is likely that the US government is truly fearful of an Iran equipped with nuclear weapons, it is less likely that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is the main reason behind the hesitancy to re-enter the JCPOA.
Instead it seems that two other primary goals of the US, Israel and their Western allies, are driving the hardball diplomatic stance of Washington, the same two issues which were the priority of the previous administration. The US seeks, whether in the advent of re-entering the deal or prior to that, “re-negotiating” the terms of the two key issues of Iran’s offensive weapons capabilities and its regional alliances.
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Iran’s greatest weapons are not nuclear
The US and Israel do not wish to see the Islamic Republic in possession of nuclear weapons, but it is also clear that the rhetoric is over the top on what they expect of an Iran in possession of those weapons.
Even if Iran did have a nuclear weapons program, which there is no evidence for, and it was to acquire the bomb, it is unlikely they would ever use them on a target like Israel. To begin with, Iran’s Leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, has stated that nuclear weapons are prohibited and that they are un-Islamic. Iran has also asserted that it never wishes to acquire a nuclear bomb.
Now, it is reasonable to assume that Iran could be lying about its intentions to acquire the bomb, but it is not so reasonable to assume they would launch it towards the Holy Land. Such a strike on Israel-Palestine would be in close proximity of the third holiest site in Islam, the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the strike would certainly kill many Palestinians along with Israelis, not a look that the Islamic Republic would like.
Also, if Iran was this genocidal in its intentions and was just looking for an excuse to wipe Israel out, its current capabilities would have allowed it that opportunity. Following the assasination of Iran’s top scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – which Iran blamed Israel for – Iran had the ideal opportunity to strike Israel with a barrage of ballistic missiles, but it didn’t and instead reacted by resuming to enrich uranium.
Whilst a military strike still cannot be ruled out completely, the US and Israeli governments understand that Iran will not commit irrational aggressive actions. Another example of this, was the response Iran delivered to the US assassination of their top General Qassem Soleimani, which was a calculated show of force and did not lead to further escalation.
However, Iran’s foreign policy and its support for countries like Syria, Lebanon and Yemen is seen as a strategic threat by both Israel and the US. The other problem is the republic’s non-nuclear weapons capabilities. Iran has developed its own sophisticated and battle-tested weapons technology, which has been proven to have the capability of accurately targeting the largest US base in Iraq, as well as successfully striking targets in the Persian Gulf.
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Israel’s alleged nuclear arsenal and US hypocrisy
Israel routinely threatens to strike all of its regional enemies and is said to be in possession of anywhere between 80–300 nuclear warheads. Israel also refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement and will not go on record about whether it does or does not have nuclear weapons. The United States, being the top ally of Israel, has refused to even question Israel on its alleged nuclear weapons program and itself is the only country on earth to have ever used the bomb against an adversary.
According to a recently released satellite imagery, received by International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), Israel has been significantly expanding its nuclear site in Dimona over the past years. This has prompted staunch criticism of Israel, as Premier Benjamin Netanyahu continues to threaten Iran over what he claims is Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program. Netanyahu has been claiming for the last 25 years that Iran will shortly attain the bomb – and has been wrong with every single prediction so far.
Whilst there has been no evidence presented about any alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, Israel’s was revealed back in 1986 by Mordechai Vanunu who spent 18 years in prison after being kidnapped by the Israeli Mossad in Italy.
In response to what he calls US hypocrisy, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter: “Israel is expanding Dimona, the region’s only nuclear bomb factory. @POTUS @iaeaorg @BorisJohnson @EmmanuelMacron #AngelaMerkel Gravely concerned? Concerned? A little? Care to comment? I thought so.”
Concerned? A little?
Care to comment?
I thought so. pic.twitter.com/qwvlKONEqi
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 20, 2021
If the US was truly concerned about nuclear weapons in the region, the starting point would clearly be Israel. What the US Biden administration is more interested in, is attempting to weaken Iranian power in the region and preventing it from developing greater weapons than it already has.
As the situation currently stands, the US is demanding that Iran return to abiding by the deal, in order for them to lift the Trump-era sanctions on Iran. Whilst Iran states that it will refuse to honour the deal, so long as the US keeps its sanctions in place.
The political deadlock we are currently seeing is indicative of a Biden administration unwilling to immediately engage in potential diplomatic layups, but instead command a foreign policy of an aggressive nature on the international stage.
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