Nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. What's the deal?
Updated: Nov 17
Officials at the Vienna talks | Source: BBC
Ever since Biden entered the Oval Office, he has been busy reversing some of Trump’s major decisions. One of those is Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, which came about in 2015 after long and intense negotiations. Negotiating a similar deal has proven to be delicate, especially since Israel has decided to get involved. How will these negotiations proceed?
To answer this question, a brief overview of the recent past is necessary. Two events catch the eye: the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist in November 2020, and the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facility Natanz in April 2021, both carried out by Israel. The attacks were not coincidentally timed during the renewed negotiations between Iran and the U.S., as Israel has made it very clear that they will do anything in their power to prevent the establishment of a new deal. The reason Israel is so opposed to such a deal is multi-layered.
Essentially, the nuclear threat executed by Iran has scared many nations in the Middle East. Even though Iran is not formally known as a possessor of nuclear weapons, the suspicions have been rising for quite some years. In order to build nuclear weapons, 90% uranium is required; Iran claims to have almost 60% uranium. However, this statement is distrusted by many nations, especially countries close to Iran such as Saudia Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel, as they will feel the consequences of Iran’s possible use of nuclear weapons most. This nuclear pressure does not benefit an already unstable and tense area, such as the Middle East. Therefore, the U.S. considered it desirable to bring Iran to the table and start negotiating, which brought forward fruitful results in 2015: a deal was made and economic sanctions between the U.S. and Iran could be lifted.
Then Trump came into office. Trump decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, increasing tensions once again. As soon as Biden became president of the United States, he made the renewal of the nuclear deal one of his priorities, as it showed to globally relieve much tension and minimized nuclear threats in the region. This brought both powers back to the negotiation room. However, as Israel and Iran are formally known as archenemies, Israel does not believe in a nuclear deal with Iran whatsoever, stating that nations like Iran cannot be trusted. Israel has not even tried to conceal their aggressive attempts to stop the U.S. and Iran from reaching a nuclear deal. Netanyahu has announced multiple times that he will pull out all the stops, and will not shy away from any means to prevent such a deal from happening, to keep Israel’s security from being jeopardised.
Many question what the consequences will be of such attacks carried out by Israel. Since Israel is the U.S.’s gateway to the Middle East and given the strong mutually dependant ties between the two nations, it appears that the U.S. can take a lot from Israel. Such attacks do not offer enough ground for the U.S. to tinker with the Israeli ties; them undermining the U.S.’ wishes is viewed as an inconvenience at most. For now, the U.S. has only quietly expressed dissatisfaction regarding Israel's attacks but has not given out any clear message that there will be consequences for such behaviour. However, it will also not prevent the U.S. from continuing the negotiations with Iran, so the expectancy of more attacks seems plausible. Iran’s response has already given rise to more anguish, as they stated that these attacks triggered them to increase their uranium at greater speed. The ever-rising tensions between Iran and Israel, and especially how the U.S. will deal with such tensions, will inevitably affect the future of the Middle East. How is yet unknown.