nuclear
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 M K Bhadrakumar |

The unscheduled trip to Russia by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as the special envoy of President Hassan Rouhani and his meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday can be seen as indicative of an inflection point arising in regional and international security. There is growing concern that the Trump administration could be moving in the direction of reopening the US-Iran nuclear deal of July 2015.

The Kremlin readout gave no details, but it stands to reason that given Russia’s quasi-alliance with Iran in regional politics, Zarif’s optimism is justified

During the campaign for the November election, candidate Trump disdainfully threatened to tear up the Iran accord. But as president, he has twice already certified to the US Congress that Iran is implementing its part of the deal. He is obliged to do it a third time by mid-October. Of course, Trump is not a stickler for consistency. He promised to wind up the Afghan war but approved a strategy for the open-ended war. Increasingly, he has exposed himself to be a man of straw.

Read more: US-Iran ties: Has the US kicked the hornet’s nest?

All indications are that he doesn’t have the courage to upfront abandon the deal. So long as Tehran continues to observe the terms of the deal, Trump lacks an alibi to jettison it. Yet, he wants to resuscitate the sanctions regime of the past era so that Iran is deprived of the tangible benefits accruing to it legitimately under the nuclear deal, especially, as regards its integration with the world economy.

The latest development in regard to the de-escalation zone in Idlib in northern Syria highlights once again. To be sure, “multipolarity” in the world order is facing the litmus test

This is one thing. Besides, the nuclear deal enjoys the overwhelming support of the world community. On the other hand, Trump is surrounded by “hawks” on Iran. The Israeli lobby also keeps him on a tight leash.

Hence Plan B. The White House recently deputed Nikki Haley, envoy to the UN, to Vienna to sound out the International Atomic Energy Agency about renegotiating the terms of the 2015 deal. Specifically, the White House would like to extend the scope of the IAEA inspection to also include, apart from Iran’s nuclear establishments, that country’s military bases.

Read more: Russia cautions US: Don’t break US-Iran Deal

Interestingly, White House’ choice fell on Haley to undertake the mission to Vienna (rather than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson). It speaks of the backstage role of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. Clearly, Israel is manipulating the Trump administration. Israel is paranoid that for the first time since the 1967 War, it has lost its pre-eminence militarily in the Middle East.

Tillerson has called a meeting of his counterparts from the P5+1 and Iran for a meeting in New York on September 20 to broach the subject

The US and Israel’s defeat in the Syrian conflict bring about a historic shift in the military balance. Simply put, Israel lacks the capability to stop Iran’s inexorable surge as a regional power. What is unfolding is a high-stakes game for Israel.

Tehran has made it clear that it is not open to a renegotiation of the deal. Specifically, it rejects the notion that its military bases should be opened to allow foreigners to “inspect”. Simply put, Iran is unlikely to allow the US and Israeli spies masquerading as IAEA inspectors into its sensitive military installations.

Read more: Uncle Sam’s Iran obsession continues; calls for regime change

Now, all indications are that the US is softening up the resistance of its European allies to the idea of reopening the 2015 nuclear deal. If past history is any evidence, it is a matter of time before the UK, France, and Germany (who were part of the P5+1 negotiating with Iran) fall in line.

Clearly, Israel is manipulating the Trump administration. Israel is paranoid that for the first time since the 1967 War, it has lost its pre-eminence militarily in the Middle East

Tillerson has called a meeting of his counterparts from the P5+1 and Iran for a meeting in New York on September 20 to broach the subject. A defining moment is approaching – least of all that Tillerson for the first time comes face to face with Zarif.

For Iran, the role of Russia and China will be of crucial importance. China may become wobbly when its self-interest is likely to be affected. The point is, all this ultimately would go into the alchemy of the ‘new type of relationship’ China hopes to work out with Trump. Also, Kushner happens to be Beijing’s point person in the White House. (China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi met him Wednesday to discuss father-in-law’s state visit in November.)

Read more: U.S Iran nuclear deal: what will be its implications in the…

Specifically, the White House would like to extend the scope of the IAEA inspection to also include, apart from Iran’s nuclear establishments, that country’s military bases

After meeting Putin in Sochi, Zarif said that the discussion was “substantial and positive.” Zarif hinted that Russia also would agree that the 2015 nuclear deal is “non-negotiable and that all sides to the agreement must fulfill their obligations.” The situation developing around Iran will throw light on the ground realities as regards Iran’s integration into the Eurasian space.

The Kremlin readout gave no details, but it stands to reason that given Russia’s quasi-alliance with Iran in regional politics, Zarif’s optimism is justified. Above all, Russia and Iran are working together as “guarantors” to stabilize the situation in Syria, as the latest development in regard to the de-escalation zone in Idlib in northern Syria highlights once again. To be sure, “multipolarity” in the world order is facing the litmus test.

M. K. Bhadrakumar has served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings as India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes extensively in Indian newspapers, Asia Times and the “Indian Punchline”. This piece was first published in Indian Punchline. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

M. K. Bhadrakumar has served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings as India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes extensively in Indian newspapers, Asia Times and the “Indian Punchline”.

Comments & Discussion