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L’installation d’enrichissement atomique de la centrale de Natanz, à 300 kilomètres de Téhéran. Archives AFP

Tous les problèmes dans les affaires internationales n’ont pas de solutions que les parties concernées sont prêtes à poursuivre dans le temps et de la manière nécessaires pour réussir. Le problème du nucléaire iranien avait trouvé une solution via l’Accord de Vienne (JCPOA) de 2015. Il n’était pas parfait, mais il avait permis de stabiliser la situation en empêchant l’Iran d’avoir des armes nucléaires, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit mis à terre par le président Donald Trump et ses partisans en mai 2018. Désormais, l’ombre d’une crise nucléaire pointe de nouveau à l’horizon avec peu d’espoir d’issue.

Pour comprendre pourquoi la crise semble politiquement impossible à résoudre, il faut considérer les perspectives des trois antagonistes.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 1977, Yigael Yadin, el entonces viceprimer ministro de Israel, preguntó al Presidente egipcio Anwar el-Sadat, que se encontraba en su histórica visita a Jerusalén, por qué el ejército egipcio no había invadido los pasos del Sinaí en la Guerra de Yom Kippur de 1973. “¿No ha escuchado que ustedes los israelíes cuentan con armas nucleares?, fue la respuesta.

Por supuesto que se rumoreaba que Israel poseía capacidades nucleares. Hasta el día de hoy, el país nunca ha confirmado oficialmente la existencia de un programa nuclear. Sin embargo, este secreto tan mal guardado ha determinado por largo tiempo el panorama político de la región, y disuadido a los enemigos de Israel.…  Seguir leyendo »

Having spent a couple decades in and around failing Arab-Israeli negotiations, I know a negotiation that's in serious trouble when I see one. The Iran nuclear negotiations that resumed this week in Vienna after a suspension of almost five months are a case in point.

Indeed, right now, probably neither the Biden administration nor Iran's Supreme Leader believes a mutually acceptable agreement is feasible. And it's not so certain that one of the parties -- Iran, which seems to be using the talks as cover to ramp up its nuclear program -- believes that an accord is even desirable right now.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las negociaciones entre Irán y Estados Unidos sobre las actividades nucleares iraníes van a reanudarse el 29 de noviembre. Pero si bien muchos recibirán con beneplácito este desarrollo, deberían tener en mente que las conversaciones probablemente no tengan éxito. Y si lo tienen, ningún acuerdo resolverá la presión de Irán por una primacía regional –o por armas nucleares.

Primero, algo de historia. En 2015, Irán y Estados Unidos, junto con China, Francia, Alemania, Rusia, la Unión Europea y el Reino Unido, celebraron el Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto (PAIC), un acuerdo que redujo las reservas de uranio de Irán, el nivel hasta donde podía enriquecer su uranio y la cantidad de centrífugas que podía operar.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iran: Push to Revive the Nuclear Deal, but Prepare for Worse Outcomes

The future of the Iran nuclear deal remains uncertain and the new Iranian president has stalled the already slow negotiations. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’s (JCPOA) full restoration, encourage efforts for regional dialogue and prepare contingency plans in case of a breakdown with Tehran.

The fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal placing limitations on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, looms large in the country’s relations with Europe. The three European parties to the accord – European Union (EU) member states France and Germany, as well as the UK – have helped keep it alive, if not exactly thriving, since the U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Rouhani in April visiting the exhibition of nuclear achievements. Credit: Official website of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. https://president.ir/en/120598.

On July 6, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was moving ahead with manufacturing “uranium metal enriched to 20 percent U-235 [uranium’s most fissile isotope],” the latest in a series of steps violating Iran’s commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While Tehran maintains that there is little for the international community to be concerned about—its ambassador to the IAEA pointed to benefits for producing radiopharmaceutical treatments—European and US officials are not convinced. The production of enriched uranium metal, which can be used in the core of nuclear weapons, could have serious nonproliferation implications and adds a complication to already-laborious negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring the JCPOA.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman holds her hand to her chest next to a pin bearing the image of Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s newly elected president, at a rally June 19 in Tehran celebrating his victory. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi has been voted Iran’s next president in an election that had historically low turnout. Raisi is a hard-liner, closely aligned with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s anti-Western views.

When Raisi takes office in August, he will chart a different course in foreign and domestic policy than President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who aimed to expand Iran’s engagement with the world.

No issue will be more important or sensitive than the 2015 nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Since April, the United States, Iran and other parties have been negotiating a path to reviving the deal, which imposed limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranians drive past a missile during a rally marking the 42nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, at Azadi (Freedom) Square in Tehran, on Feb. 10. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

There is a common misperception that those of us who opposed the Iran nuclear deal are simply opposed to diplomacy with Iran.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In more than 25 years in Congress, we have consistently supported diplomacy backed by sanctions, with the objective of ending Iran’s dangerous nuclear plans and curbing its regional aggression. That is why we believe there is an opportunity for President Biden to think beyond the mere restoration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that the Obama administration, its European partners, China and Russia reached with Iran in 2015.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police officers stand guard outside the Grand Hotel in Vienna on Tuesday as Iran nuclear talks resumed there this week. (Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)

President Biden and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani both have clear reasons for wanting to return to full compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal as quickly as possible. But the one that should matter most to the world — the fact that it was working — is currently moot.

Iran’s internal dynamics are shifting rapidly, and that must be taken into consideration as the Biden administration attempts to revive the agreement that President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018. As someone who has believed, and continues to believe, in the value of diplomatic engagement to resolve the complex geopolitical issues with Iran, in this instance, I think it’s time to slow down.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando la política exterior de un país se deja arrastrar por corrientes emotivas y sucumbe a tentaciones efectistas, la diplomacia suele quedar relegada a un segundo plano. Ocurrió en EE. UU. tras los atentados del 11-S y, más recientemente, durante el estridente mandato de Donald Trump. El mejor ejemplo tal vez sea el acuerdo nuclear con Irán, que se gestó en 2015 tras años de arduas negociaciones, solo para que Trump lo desechase entre aspavientos como parte de su estrategia de “presión máxima” contra Teherán. Dicha estrategia, arrogante y miope, se ha saldado con un rotundo fracaso, que ahora debemos reconducir contra reloj en las conversaciones que se han puesto en marcha en Viena.…  Seguir leyendo »

European Union Delegation members from the parties to the Iran nuclear deal. (AFP/Getty Images)

A week after an explosion destroyed the power system in Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, Iranian officials identified an Iranian suspect in an attack widely attributed to Israel. Iranian TV footage appeared to show centrifuges in operation, amid claims that “work that had been disrupted will be back on track.”

The true extent of the damage remains unclear — a midweek report by one Iranian official noted “several thousand” affected centrifuges. U.S. intelligence sources estimated repairs could take Iran nine months.

How will this attack affect Iran’s commitment and capacity to expand its nuclear program? And how will the attack influence the likelihood that the United States and Iran can reach an agreement on resuscitating the Iran deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — or JCPOA, for short?…  Seguir leyendo »

The Clock Is Ticking for Biden on Iran

Since early April, Iranian officials have been meeting in Vienna with British, Chinese, French, German and Russian counterparts, the remaining members of the 2015 nuclear deal that the United States abandoned in 2018. The United States is participating indirectly, with European diplomats going back and forth between the Iranians and the U.S. diplomats, led by President Biden’s special envoy, Robert Malley.

On Thursday these negotiations resumed, despite the uncertainty caused by Sunday’s sabotage of Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which Iran blamed on Israel. Publicly, Israel denied being behind the attack. But American and Israeli intelligence officials have described it as “a classified Israeli operation,” and Tehran has retaliated by increasing its nuclear enrichment levels threefold.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, 155 miles south of Tehran, in a satellite image taken last week. (Maxar Technologies via Reuters)

Congratulations — presumably — are due to Israeli intelligence for a devastating fire at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility over the weekend. Details are scarce, with the New York Times reporting that the site was hit by an apparent explosion and The Post citing an Israeli media report that it was a cyberattack.

So it goes in Israel’s shadow war against Iran’s nuclear program. Recent attacks attributed to Israel included the assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist last fall and a mysterious series of explosions that struck various sites in Iran, including a major missile facility, last summer. The most successful attack of all was the Stuxnet virus — part of a joint U.S.-Israeli…  Seguir leyendo »

With America joining the renewed talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the Iran nuclear agreement shunned by Donald Trump, the United States has taken a giant step back into the global community of nations. Sadly, we are now reduced to playing a sharply weakened hand.

It will take some deft management and out-of-the-box thinking on the part of America and Iran to snatch success from the jaws of what could still be catastrophic failure. And it is on the cusp of just such failure where the world is now suspended -- with the clock ticking loudly.

At the end of the first day of the Vienna meetings on Tuesday, the chief Iranian representative, Abbas Araqchi, told Press TV of Tehran that talks "are on the right track," but added that Iran still expected the US to lift all sanctions before Iran would agree to resume compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the 2015 agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

A change in U.S. administrations brought with it something rare in the often-acrimonious relationship between Washington and Tehran: a point of agreement. Nearly three years after President Donald Trump unilaterally exited the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), both sides concur on the need to restore core elements of the deal that have been sorely tested since: strict restrictions on and rigorous monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Yet, the shared strategic imperative of full mutual compliance remains out of reach so long as a tactical deadlock continues on how to achieve it.

An explanation of the convergence of U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Resolver el dilema de Irán

La campaña de “máxima presión” del ex presidente norteamericano Donald Trump contra Irán claramente no logró mejorar la seguridad regional o global. Su sucesor, Joe Biden, no debe cometer el mismo error.

La pieza central de la política de Trump hacia Irán fue su retiro unilateral de Estados Unidos del Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto de 2015 –ampliamente conocido como el acuerdo nuclear iraní- en 2018. Esta medida, promovida de manera directa y agresiva por el primer ministro israelí, Benjamin Netanyahu, permitió que Estados Unidos volviera a imponer sanciones severas a Irán.

En aquel momento, Irán cumplía plenamente con las condiciones del PAIC, cosa que siguió haciendo durante un año completo después de que la decisión de Trump entrara en vigor, para darle a Europa la posibilidad de respetar su promesa de eludir las sanciones de Estados Unidos.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Iranian woman passes by a wall painting of the Iranian national flag in Tehran on Feb. 23. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Iran and the United States each say they want to revive the 2015 nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — but are waiting for the other to make the next move. Since President Biden’s inauguration, diplomats and analysts have focused on the details of how to get the two sides to sit down together to chart a path forward. But there has been comparatively little discussion about the issues they would need to resolve in negotiations.

Contrary to what Iranian officials have suggested, it’s not possible to turn the JCPOA back on with the flip of a switch.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Trump administration ended U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May 2018, and proceeded to launch a “maximum pressure” campaign defined by the sweeping use of unilateral sanctions against Iran. The strategy was ostensibly intended to persuade Tehran to agree to a “better deal” that would include additional restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program and an expansion of the accord’s scope to cover Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional power projection.

But the Trump administration’s approach erred in two crucial assumptions. The first was that Iran would not respond to U.S. sanctions by expanding its nuclear activity.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meets Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Tehran, Iran on August 26, 2020. Iran's Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency via AFP

The Biden administration is facing formidable challenges in delivering on one of its campaign promises: returning to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Domestic politics are a significant obstacle. The agreement remains highly contentious among members of Congress. Many Republicans but also key Senate Democrats, who could hold up confirming senior administration officials, are opposed to lifting Trump-era sanctions on Iran. The Biden administration’s lagging pace now threatens to undo an agreement that was already faltering as a result of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign.

et Iran’s nuclear program is growing by the day, as the time it would take to enrich enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon shrinks.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the four decades since Iran’s Islamic Revolution, relations between Tehran and Washington have seen deep enmity offset by brief periods of rapprochement and tactical cooperation. As a new U.S. administration settles into office and asserts its intent to, in President Joe Biden’s words, “offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy,” one of those periods may be on the horizon again.

The Obama administration pursued diplomatic engagement with the Islamic Republic, holding direct as well as multilateral talks that culminated in the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Under the Trump administration, the strategic pendulum swung toward an adversarial approach, largely defined by a “maximum pressure” policy of applying sweeping unilateral U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »