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The risk of USA – Iran military showdown before Trump leaves office

Are the US and Iran headed for a military showdown before Trump leaves office?  The Conversation Clive Williams
Campus visitor, ANU Centre for Military and Security Law, Australian National University,  January 4, 2021
   Tensions are running high in the Middle East in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Over the weekend, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, claimed Israeli agents were planning to attack US forces in Iraq to provide US President Donald Trump with a pretext for striking Iran.

Just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the US assassination of Iran’s charismatic General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also warned his country would respond forcefully to any provocations.

Today, we have no problem, concern or apprehension toward encountering any powers. We will give our final words to our enemies on the battlefield.

Israeli military leaders are likewise preparing for potential Iranian retaliation over the November assassination of senior Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh — an act Tehran blames on the Jewish state.

Both the US and Israel have reportedly deployed submarines to the Persian Gulf in recent days, while the US has flown nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region in a show of force.

And in another worrying sign, the acting US defence secretary, Christopher Miller, announced over the weekend the US would not withdraw the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and its strike group from the Middle East — a swift reversal from the Pentagon’s earlier decision to send the ship home.

Israel’s priorities under a new US administration

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would like nothing more than action by Iran that would draw in US forces before Trump leaves office this month and President-elect Joe Biden takes over. It would not only give him the opportunity to become a tough wartime leader, but also help to distract the media from his corruption charges.

Any American military response against Iran would also make it much more difficult for Biden to establish a working relationship with Iran and potentially resurrect the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

It’s likely in any case the Biden administration will have less interest in getting much involved in the Middle East — this is not high on the list of priorities for the incoming administration. However, a restoration of the Iranian nuclear agreement in return for the lifting of US sanctions would be welcomed by Washington’s European allies.

This suggests Israel could be left to run its own agenda in the Middle East during the Biden administration.

Israel sees Iran as its major ongoing security threat because of its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

One of Israel’s key strategic policies is also to prevent Iran from ever becoming a nuclear weapon state. Israel is the only nuclear weapon power in the Middle East and is determined to keep it that way.

While Iran claims its nuclear program is only intended for peaceful purposes, Tehran probably believes realistically (like North Korea) that its national security can only be safeguarded by possession of a nuclear weapon.

In recent days, Tehran announced it would begin enriching uranium to 20% as quickly as possible, exceeding the limits agreed to in the 2015 nuclear deal.

This is a significant step and could prompt an Israeli strike on Iran’s underground Fordo nuclear facility. Jerusalem contemplated doing so nearly a decade ago when Iran previously began enriching uranium to 20%.

How the Iran nuclear deal fell apart……….. https://theconversation.com/are-the-us-and-iran-headed-for-a-military-showdown-before-trump-leaves-office-152606

 

January 7, 2021 - Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA, weapons and war

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