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A quick return to the Iran nuclear deal is needed to avoid a real nuclear crisis.

Why a quick return to the Iran nuclear deal is needed to avoid a real nuclear crisis, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists By Seyed Hossein Mousavian | April 11, 2021 Ambassador Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a Middle East Security and Nuclear Policy Specialist at Princeton University and a former chief of Iran’s National Security Foreign Relations Committee. His book, A Middle East Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction, was published in May 2020 by Routledge. His latest book, A New Structure for Security, Peace, and Cooperation in the Persian Gulf, was published in December 2020 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.  About 80 days after President Biden’s inauguration, Iran and the world powers held the first round of nuclear talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Diplomats involved in the talks agreed on Friday that initial steps in two working groups designed to bring both the United States and Iran back into compliance with JCPOA were positive and would continue next week.

Still, the Biden administration will need to maneuver around multiple political obstacles if it is to rejoin the nuclear deal in a timely fashion. And if the United States does not quickly rejoin, there is a real possibility that the talks will collapse, that Iran will proceed with its uranium-enrichment program, and that a dangerous crisis will needlessly be created………………

 about three months after taking office, the Biden administration still has not rejoined the deal. There appear to be three principal obstacles to a quick US re-entry:

First, the administration is divided. According to Foreign Policy magazine, the Biden administration’s negotiator with Iran, Robert Malley, and Deputy National Security Advisor Jonathan Finer are in favor of rejoining, but Secretary of State Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan favor a harder line.

Second, the powerful pro-Israel lobby has joined in pressing the Biden administration not to rejoin the JCPOA.

Third, congressional Democrats are divided. In two separate letters to Blinken, bipartisan groups of about 160 members of the House have  called for continued pressure on Iran. The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, opposes revival of the JCPOA in its current form. In a statement, Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma warned, “As a reminder: Members of Congress rejected the JCPOA on a bipartisan basis in 2015. If you (Biden) repeat history next week by restoring that failed agreement, we will work to reject it once again.”

For the United States to return to the JCPOA as it was, the Biden administration would have to engage in rigorous work, lifting about 1,600 sanctions and punitive designations that the Trump administration imposed on Iran after then-President Trump pulled out of the deal in 2018. The Biden administration has already warned that it will not lift every single economic sanction that former President Donald Trump imposed. Therefore, although Washington and Tehran say they want “compliance for compliance” deal to revive the JCPOA, a big question remains: Can Biden deliver full US compliance?

I have been involved in Iran nuclear talks for about two decades. Based on my experience and understanding of the current political situations in Teheran and Washington, absent a quick decision by Biden to rejoin the JCPOA, the agreement will totally collapse, and serious nuclear talks will not take place again until Iran gains new leverage by ramping its nuclear program back up to pre-JCPOA levels—or perhaps even beyond.

A new confrontation and the possibility of a new crisis. Historically, US pressure tactics have backfired, pushing Iran ever closer to nuclear-weapon acquisition………..

Now we have a new confrontation. On December 2, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s reimposition of sanctions, Iran’s hardline Parliament passed legislation requiring that Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization begin enriching uranium to 20 percent of the U-235 isotope, the internationally- designated boundary above which uranium becomes weapon-usable.

The Parliament also withdrew Iran from the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, which allows IAEA inspections at sites such that where Iran produces gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. If the United States continues to refuse to rejoin the JCPOA and lift its sanctions on Iran, the legislation required Iran to begin to operate advanced centrifuges, to develop the capability to convert uranium into metal form, such as would be used in a nuclear weapon, by this month, and to greatly increase the number of Iran’s operating centrifuges. The legislation also dictates that Iran’s 40-megawatt Arak heavy-water reactor be brought into operation within one year.

So far, the Biden administration’s response has been unfortunate. Secretary of State Blinken has said that there will be no American concessions until Iran returns to full compliance with the JCPOA, and, on March 11, 2021, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat, expressed their common determination to confront Iran.

It therefore now appears in the absence of US return to the JCPOA, Iran will produce enough enriched uranium within the next three to six months to put itself in a position to be able to break out and quickly to enrich enough 90 percent-enriched uranium for a bomb. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has frequently reiterated that producing and stockpiling nuclear weapons is absolutely forbidden in Iran according to the rules of Islam. But he has also stated that Iran will never yield to US pressure over its nuclear activities and might enrich uranium up to 60 percent. This last level appears to be a reference to Iran’s previous expressed interest in developing a nuclear reactor similar to US naval reactors that powering ships.

If Iran continues on this path, it seems likely that the United States and Israel will respond by intensifying the strategies they have followed since 2005: sanctions, sabotage of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and perhaps even assassinations of more Iranian nuclear scientists.

Based on the experience of the past four decades, Iran will be able to resist these confrontational policies and carry through to a breakout position. In response, after the inauguration of Iran’s new and probably hardline president in August 2021, the US policy will have to shift from a policy of no breakout to one of no nuclear bomb. At that point, to resolve the crisis peacefully, new nuclear talks would be required, and the US would have to make enough concessions to convince Iran not to pursue a nuclear bomb.

It would be far better to avoid such a dangerous crisis by returning to President Biden’s original plan for the US to quickly rejoin the JCPOA and raze the sanctions that President Trump imposed in exchange for Iran coming back into full compliance with the agreement. Then, the two countries could begin to negotiate on the other issues that divide them.

April 13, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. My friend Evelyn is sharp as a tack. She’s 90 years old she can do crosswords that I can’t do. I’m old and beat up. But I’m compassionate empathetic and passionate. The old boobs if they keep impower in America are all pro nuclear and they are destroying America and the world. I’m friends with an octogenarian nun in prison for protesting nuclear. I’ve been in jail for protesting nuclear. Now is the time for all good people to get together protest the nuclear bomb and nuclear reactors. it is coming to the point where we are all nuclear sapiens one atom of cesium-137 in the body will break billions of DNA linkages. We now have pestilence that we never dreamed of. There is no way to tone down the language of how insane and crazy nuclear is. My friends and I went to yucca mountain in the 1980s. The only way my green friends in Germany stopped nuclear was anger organization and vituperative labeling of nuclear for what it is. That’s what happened one hundreds of thousands of people want to Jimmy Carter’s White House in 1978 to protest nuclear. There are several nuclear reactors in America that are ready to fail. America has 8,000 nuclear bombs. We are contaminated to the gills with radionucleides. Joe Biden is making things worse. What a sad fate for my family and the human race

    Comment by Anonymous | April 13, 2021 | Reply

    • Totally understandable. At the same time, I guess I’m thinking – ”Who is your audience?” ”To whom are you hoping to communicate?” I myself am ”over the top” all too often. But the thing is – we need to persuade, to get the support of, people ”in the middle” – sorta neutral people, who just might be amenable to persuasion. The nuclear lobby is all too happy to to write us off as ”silly hysterical” women.”

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | April 14, 2021 | Reply

    • Sounds as if you’re describing a friend of mine too – Sister Megan Rice – what a force to be reckoned with, is she !!

      Comment by Christina MacPherson | April 14, 2021 | Reply

      • Yes. I am going to a pteat in June in Los Alamos. That is all I can do

        Comment by Anonymous | April 14, 2021

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