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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaThe Looming Threat of a Nuclear Crisis with Iran

The Looming Threat of a Nuclear Crisis with Iran

Author: Robin Wright

Affiliation: The New Yorker

Organization/Publisher: The New Yorker

Date/Place: December 27, 2021/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 4693


Keywords: Nuclear Crisis, Robert Malley, Yasir Arafat, 2000 Peace Talks


Soon after his inauguration, President Joe Biden named Robert Malley his Iran special envoy. Malley was on the National Security Council during the Camp David discussions. In the Post-Clinton era, Malley worked for the International Crisis Group (ICG). Obama then sent him to Tehran as lead negotiator on the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal), for which maniacs dubbed Malley anti-Semitic for his role, while others blasted such attacks against him. Malley has worked with Iran in the region for almost a quarter-century, and during the two years of the nuclear deal talks, while delegations met in hotel corridors it was Malley who knew his Iranian counterparts by first name—swapping numbers and emails. The regional achievement lasted only 2 years, as Trump immediately withdrew the US from the accord in 2018, following an agenda led by Netanyahu and Republican hawks. Implementing a policy of “maximum pressure”, Trump re-imposed sanctions against Iran and even added sanctions, targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader and also the Foreign Minister. The US then designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; the Nazi Wehrmacht was never branded a terrorist organization. During Trump’s presidency, Malley led the ICG. Although he had numerous Iranian friends, he couldn’t meet with Iranian officials. Malley now returns to the Iran arena in an official capacity, but Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov has called the Vienna protocol strange, saying that the goal isn’t to alter or create a new deal because Tehran’s regional ambitions had grown hostile. It’s not just the Iranian risk to the global nuclear system: a century-old nuclear treaty is outmoded as the US/Russia/China modernize; and the Pentagon predicts 1,000 Chinese bombs by 2030.  Only a year after Trump reneged on the deal and launched his “maximum pressure” campaign, Iran began enriching uranium as it no longer had the incentives of the deal. Iran’s enrichment grew from 4% to 60% for peaceful nuclear energy or medicinal research. No other nation, according to IAEA has reached this milestone. Malley advocates that both nations return to the treaty simultaneously, then decide on a series of measures. Without evidence that Iran is going backwards on nuclear technology, switching to outdated centrifuges, and lowering its uranium stockpile, the Biden Administration will not reward Iran. The US has lost credibility, but may be able to resurrect the nuclear agreement by working with the other nations of the agreement– China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Meanwhile, Iran faces extraordinary difficulties both at home and abroad as sanctions against its oil exports remain.

By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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