Observers urge the US to address the nuclear threat posed by Iran during the talks to revitalize the deal, Voice of America
AMMAN, JORDAN – Negotiations on the US return to the Iranian nuclear deal and how to ensure its full and effective implementation are ongoing. According to observers, the threat of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East cannot be ignored and must be addressed even as Iran calls for an end to the crippling of US sanctions. Analysts also say the wide-ranging activities of Iranian-backed Shiite militias and missiles in the region need to be addressed.
Along with other observers, David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy and a former Trump administration adviser on the Middle East, says Iran is desperate for sanctions relief as it calls for all punitive measures to be lifted before coming back to compliance returns 2015 nuclear deal known as JCPOA. However, Schenker argues that the US should use the current talks to also combat the malicious behavior of Iran and that of its proxies in the region.
“If enough sanctions are lifted, there won’t be enough leverage … to get the Iranians to argue about one of the other elephants in the room. These are the missiles and the Iranian-backed Shiite militias that are running amok in the Middle East. From Iraq to Yemen to Syria to Lebanon, Iran seems to be pursuing its own campaign with maximum pressure against the Biden government to make concessions on the nuclear deal at the negotiating table, ”he said.
Schenker points to the recent attacks on US military bases in Iraq, which intensify the drone attacks by the Houthi rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia – despite the removal of the Houthis as a terrorist group by the Biden government – and on Iranian speedboats, the US Harassing naval ships in the Persian Gulf.
However, the editor of the Financial Times International Affairs, David Gardner, said in his remarks to the Global Center at Columbia University that he saw a weakened Iran due to crippling sanctions, failed regional adventures and the loss of its chief military strategist Qassem Soleimani in a US air strike in Iraq last year. This is the case despite the Iranian sphere of influence in the so-called Shiite crescent.
“Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are not an arc or an axis of power, but an arc of failed states, which Iran, according to Qassem Soleimani, is increasingly struggling to cope with. It is not possible to just continue with this tough formula of force of militias and missiles. The need for sanction relief is very, very urgent indeed, “Gardner said.
David Hearst, editor-in-chief of Middle East Eye, agrees.
“Soleimani’s assassination had a really devastating effect on the coordination of different groups. No one could replace Soleimani, who was a military general. He spoke Arabic. He built bridges not only with Kurds, but also with Sunni Arab leaders. His sudden walking showed the weakness of the structure, “Hearst said.
However, London’s International Institute of Strategic Studies says recent satellite imagery shows the construction of a new set of seven silos to hold advanced new missiles in southern Iran that could be of concern for military airfields in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Others point to Iranian-linked Iraqi militias engaged in a strategic region that links Iraq and Syria after the defeat of the Islamic State militants.