Is the Safety of the World at Stake?

Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid

In the Los Angeles Times, on the 5th, April 2021, David S. Cloud & Tracy Wilkinson wrote a report discussing what they had called “Biden’s Dilemma on Iran nuclear deal”. And – because this issue is very important & crucial for safety of the world, including us in Africa – I thought it is worthy of sharing.

The report stated that with the first serious efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, President Biden faces an increasingly urgent dilemma: He can go slow, risking war and a collapse of talks, or move fast, even if it means a possibly flawed deal that damages his ambitious domestic agenda.

The last Tuesday Vienna talks of the signatories to the 2015 Nuclear Pact were aimed at returning both the U.S. and Tehran into compliance. Washington would ease sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy, and in return, the Islamic Republic would cut back production of nuclear materials, which it had increased to prohibited quantities.

Until now, each side has insisted that the other goes first, locking the two in a stalemate. “This is a first step,” Biden’s special envoy for Iran issues who helped negotiate the 2015 pact, Robert Malley, said on Twitter.

However, technical and, more importantly, political challenges, remain for all parties that could easily scuttle any progress.

Recent attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. forces in Iraq are making it tougher for the Biden administration to build domestic support for these new diplomatic initiatives. Some U.S. officials and analysts think Biden should delay dealing with Iran, focusing on his domestic agenda instead.

Others think he has already waited too long. Some Pentagon officials think the tensions are so severe that it might not be possible to delay any further. Without a deal restricting the Iranian nuclear program, the choice becomes to watch Iran march closer to the ability to build a bomb, or to go to war to stop it, U.S. military officials say.

As evidence of the urgency, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency’s latest report says Iran has installed a set of sophisticated centrifuges at its underground Natanz plant that will further expand its capability to enrich uranium.

Ever since Trump left the deal and sought to isolate and punish Iran with a “maximum pressure” campaign, the Islamic Republic has steadily ratcheted up its violations. It has stockpiled uranium and heavy water and restricted the access of the United Nations’ inspectors charged with monitoring its nuclear activities as part of the 2015 agreement.

The longer Iran is outside the deal, the closer it gets to have a nuclear weapon; the closer it gets, the more likely Israel is to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, potentially setting off a regional war that would be almost certain to draw in the United States.

Biden first made overtures to Iran in February, hoping to unlock the stalemate, but those were rebuffed.

In the weeks since then, European diplomats led by Josep Borrell, foreign minister for the European Union, lobbied Iranians, Russians and others to agree to move past the initial objections.

Malley, Biden’s point man, also crisscrossed the region to plead the U.S. case and convince other leaders, including Iran’s, that the USA was serious about reviving the agreement.

“There are just too many skeptics in Iran, in the region and in Washington, who want to kill the deal if [Biden] doesn’t move forward,” said Joseph Cirincione, an arms control expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington think tank.

He was among several analysts who said Biden had miscalculated by not quickly reviving the deal in the first weeks of his administration, as he had vowed to do during the campaign.

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