Avoid a nuclear race in the Middle-East

Iran It has been confirmed that Iran will further be reducing its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal as it attempts to ramp up the pressure on European powers to find ways to cushion the crippling impact of US sanctions. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, warned earlier this week that Tehran would begin research on developing centrifuges to speed up uranium enrichment beyond the permissible limit. Under the deal, Iran was allowed to enrich uranium up to 3.67 %. But Iran may enrich up to 20%, which may lead toward further enrichment and finally weapon-grade enrichment.

Iran’s nuclear deal was signed in 2015 by seven nations. Under the deal, Iran had to halt its nuclear program and the West had to remove economic sanctions on Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that there has been no evidence of violation from the Iranian side. Even the US Congress has not confirmed any violations yet.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a PowerPoint presentation that persuaded US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal, something he had promised during his election campaign. Trump Administration unilaterally announced the US withdrawal from the deal in May 2018, and imposed sanctions on Iran, which crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran kept on pressuring other European signatories like UK, France, and Germany, for compensation due to America’s withdrawal and the imposition of a sanction, and keep its promise to limiting its enrichment program, for more than one year. Although the European signatories, known as the E3, opposed President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal and have been battling hard to keep it intact, fearing that its collapse could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region, while, its rival Israel has already nuclear weapons, a direct threat to Iran and the whole middle-east. But they have struggled to come up with mechanisms to keep trade open with Iran as banks and companies refuse to do business with the republic because they fear they could be targeted by the US’s punitive measures. French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to set up a credit line for Iran has gained momentum. But it would require Washington’s tacit approval and US officials have downplayed the chances of the Trump administration backing it. Instead, US officials say Washington is continuing its “maximum pressure” strategy in an attempt to force Tehran to the negotiating table. Sending its Warships and Air Craft Carriers to middle-east to exert maximum pressure on Iran to bring it to negotiating table, has turned counterproductive.

I have predicted it since long and mentioned in my one of the article titled “IRAN: SANCTIONS MIGHT TURN COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE”, published in Russian media on 08 July 2019. I understand Iranian culture, history, and psychology, based on my understanding of this nation, I was pretty sure that too much pressure may lead to rebellion and become counterproductive. It will be extremely dangerous if a race initiated in the Middle-East, as some of the oil-rich countries, with their excessive amount of wealth, may cross all limits of the nuclear weapons race. Middle-East has money and many Western countries are facing economic crises and may exploit this opportunity to sell them, legally or illegally, nuclear weapons or technologies or assist them to develop nuclear weapons. Tension does exist in the middle-East, education level and civic sense are lacking, sense of responsivity is also lacking, with this scenario, the situation might be extremely adverse beyond one’s imagination.

The world is facing many worrisome issues and if this new issue is created, it might be even more dangerous. Once a nuclear race started, it may be not any one’s control.

I believe, it is not too late, if responsible states, reconsider and are serious to resolve this issue, Iran can reverse its decision to enrich Uranium back to its 2015 permissible limits. There is a will, there is a way. All the stakeholders of JCPA-2015, may join heads and come up with a rational common strategy, which may also be acceptable to Iran, and revert back to the original agreement or something similar.

Save Middle-East! Avoid Nuclear Race in the Middle-East! Care about Humanity! Save the precious lives of human beings!

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Academician, Researcher, Peace-activist, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), Islamabad, Pakistan