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Image fournie par l’AIEA de centrifugeuses sur le site nucléaire de Natanz, le 4 novembre 2019. Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/archives AFP

On peut soutenir qu’en dépit de tous ses errements, le président Trump n’a pas commis, sur le plan international, d’erreurs stratégiques équivalentes à celles de George Bush envahissant l’Irak ou Barak Obama renonçant à faire respecter ses lignes rouges en Syrie. La question se pose cependant pour sa gestion du dossier iranien : en mettant à mal l’accord nucléaire de 1995 (dit JCPOA), Trump a peut-être opéré un fait accompli irréversible, dont l’une des conséquences serait de projeter un pays essentiel pour les équilibres au Proche-Orient – l’Iran – dans l’orbite de la Chine.

Quoi qu’il en soit, à la suite de l’élection présidentielle américaine, la question iranienne est désormais entrée dans une phase nouvelle.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Iranian forces carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a funeral ceremony in Tehran on Nov. 30. (Iranian Defense Ministry/WANA/Reuters)

On Nov. 27, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated on a road outside of Tehran. An Iranian nuclear scientist who reportedly led the Islamic Republic of Iran’s alleged covert nuclear weapons program in the early 2000s, Fakhrizadeh most recently served as a brigadier general in Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, as head of the ministry’s Defensive Research and Innovation Organization (DRIO). He also taught physics at Imam Hossein University, an institution associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp.

Iran’s leadership has blamed Israel for the attack, but Israel has neither confirmed nor denied any involvement. Some analysts voiced concern that the killing was meant to provoke an Iranian retaliation — a move that might then trigger U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran's leading nuclear weapons scientist, could set off a tinder box of violence between Iran, Israel and the United States -- and put the incoming Biden administration in a tight spot when it comes to resetting relations with Tehran.

In the wake of Fakhrizadeh's death Friday, Iran's foreign minister, in a tweet, called the death "cowardice -- with serious indications of Israeli role," while the Iranian Armed Forces chief of staff warned of "severe revenge" against the scientist's killers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no immediate comment, though it's likely he, along with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, discussed how to work against Iran in a meeting in Neom, Saudi Arabia, last Sunday, where Mossad head Yossi Cohen was also present.…  Seguir leyendo »

The scene of the attack that killed prominent Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh outside Tehran on Saturday. (Wana News Agency via Reuters)

It’s been nearly a year since a U.S. airstrike killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force in Baghdad. The fallout — or lack thereof — from that strike should make us cautious in assessing the impact of Friday’s killing east of Tehran of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a leading Iranian nuclear weapons scientist.

Hawks such as former Trump national security adviser John Bolton expressed hope in January that Soleimani’s death would force Iran to scale back its regional aggression and could even set in motion “regime change in Tehran.” Many critics of the Trump administration, on the other hand, expressed fear that his death could drag the entire region into war.…  Seguir leyendo »

A protester holds a picture of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh during a demonstration against the nuclear scientist’s killing in Tehran on Saturday. Credit Wana/Reuters

When Israel engineered the assassinations of a half-dozen Iranian nuclear scientists from 2010 to 2012, supporters of these killings argued that they would help slow a nuclear program at a time when multilateral diplomacy was showing little progress.

The killing on Friday of Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, comes in a very different context.

Iran is again producing a large amount of uranium, but it is not close to the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon. Its actions are largely driven by the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was intended to put a lid on Iran’s ability to amass enough highly enriched uranium for a single weapon until January 2031.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks by a street mural in Tehran on Nov. 8. (Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

After Jan. 20, what will happen to U.S. policy on Iran? On the campaign trail, Joe Biden said he would return the United States to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran so long as Tehran does the same. Iran has made a mirror-image pledge to roll back its nuclear program and return to compliance once Washington lifts sanctions.

In theory, then, returning to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the 2015 Iran nuclear deal signed by China, France, Germany, Iran, the United Kingdom, the United States and Russia — should be straightforward. Biden could make that decision on his first day in office.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (centre) speaks to reporters following a meeting on Iran at the UN Security Council, 20 August 2020 in New York (Mike Segar/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

After the United States experienced a rebuff at the United Nations last week – with almost the entire membership of the Security Council rejecting its attempt to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran – US officials warned that the dispute could lead to a major crisis in the Council, damaging the institution’s authority.

They are not alone in this analysis. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, a vocal critic of the US sanctions drive, has accused Washington of risking “a very serious scandal and rift” at the UN.

But these dire predictions may prove to be exaggerated.

The argument pivots on the US claim that, acting on the UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), it can demand the reactivation of UN sanctions resolutions on Iran that were terminated as part of the bargain.…  Seguir leyendo »

Esta semana se cumplen cinco años desde que Irán y el Grupo E3/EU+3 (compuesto por Alemania, China, Estados Unidos, la Federación de Rusia, Francia y Reino Unido, junto con la Alta Representante de la Unión Europea para Asuntos Exteriores y Política de Seguridad) acordaran en Viena el Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto (PAIC). En la conmemoración de su quinto aniversario, debemos ser conscientes de que, sin el Plan de Acción, Irán podría haber desarrollado ya armas nucleares, añadiendo otra fuente de inestabilidad a una región de por sí volátil.

A día de hoy, el PAIC está siendo sometido a una gran presión desde múltiples frentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cuando Irán anunció en enero que “reduciría” aún más sus compromisos con el acuerdo de 2015 que limita sus actividades nucleares, no fue en respuesta al asesinato por parte de Estados Unidos del líder de las Fuerzas Quds iraníes, el general Qassem Suleimani, unos días antes. Pero ambos acontecimientos reflejan la escalada de la confrontación entre Irán y Estados Unidos desde el verano de 2019. Cualquier esfuerzo por salvaguardar la sustancia del acuerdo de 2015 (formalmente conocido como Plan de Acción Integral Conjunto o PAIC) debe tener en cuenta este contexto.

El régimen iraní declaró que con esta fase “quinta y final” de reducción de sus compromisos con el PAIC, ya no se sentiría atado a los límites superiores acordados del trato en cuanto a las centrífugas y al enriquecimiento de uranio.…  Seguir leyendo »

A heavy water secondary circuit at a nuclear plant near Arak, Iran, last month.Credit...Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, via Associated Press

The costs of the United States’ targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, are mounting beyond the already significant risks of Iranian retaliation and subsequent military confrontation.

On Sunday, Tehran announced that it will cease to honor all “operational restrictions” imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, which aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

While Iran has not announced what, if any, specific nuclear activities it intends to resume, its decision to remove the restrictions on its uranium enrichment, production and research could soon pose a challenge for the Trump administration at least as great as retaliation against the assassination.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Hassan Rouhani visits the exhibition of nuclear technology on April 9, 2019. Office of the Iranian President.

Iran announced on 5 November that it is moving ahead with incremental breaches of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). According to President Hassan Rouhani, as of 6 November, Tehran will start “injecting [uranium hexafluoride] gas into the centrifuges in Fordow”, a bunkered enrichment facility that under the deal is meant to be converted “into a nuclear, physics and technology centre”.

This move is the latest in a series of staggered steps toward downgrading Tehran’s adherence to the nuclear agreement. The process began in May 2019, when the Rouhani administration set a 60-day rolling ultimatum for the agreement’s remaining parties (France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China) to deliver the deal’s expected economic dividends in the face of unilateral U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view outside the storage site on the outskirts of Tehran which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel described as a “secret atomic warehouse.”CreditCreditThe Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency don’t usually make for riveting reading, so you may have missed last Friday’s latest, soporifically headlined “Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015).”

Don’t be fooled. Buried in the report are two oblique sentences hinting at a mystery about which you may soon hear a great deal.

“Ongoing interactions between the Agency and Iran relating to Iran’s implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol require full and timely cooperation by Iran,” the report says. “The Agency continues to pursue this objective with Iran.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The alarming escalation between the U.S. and Iran risks unravelling the nuclear deal, prompting direct military engagement and destabilising the Arabian Peninsula. In this excerpt from its Watch List 2019 – Second Update, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to de-escalate tensions and maximise efforts to preserve the nuclear deal.

Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have grown at an alarming pace in recent months. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, has inflicted significant harm on Iran’s economy – an estimated 80 per cent of which is now under unilateral sanctions.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Trump says he wants to make sure Iran never acquires nuclear weapons. His policy, however, is having the opposite effect: It is giving Tehran a powerful incentive to go nuclear, while at the same time making it increasingly difficult for the United States to prevent that. On Monday the official Iranian news agency announced that the country had breached the limits for enriched uranium imposed on it by the 2015 international agreements.

Indeed, American policy toward Iran over the past year makes it clear that Iranian leaders were foolish not to develop a nuclear deterrent in the early 2000s.

Although there has not yet been a significant military clash, the United States has effectively declared war on Iran.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un recuerdo personal: hace unos cuantos años, Jacques Chirac, entonces presidente de la República Francesa, declaraba ante algunos diplomáticos: «¿La bomba iraní? ¿Y qué?». El presidente francés y muchos otros dirigentes europeos nunca han compartido la histeria estadounidense respecto a los proyectos nucleares de Irán. En el fondo, otros gobiernos menos racionales que el de Teherán, en concreto el de Pakistán, poseen armas nucleares, igual que Israel, India y China. ¿Deberíamos temer a Irán más que a China o Pakistán?

Recordemos que, aparte del uso que le dieron los estadounidenses en 1945, las bombas nucleares solo se han empleado como elemento disuasorio.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. Photo: Getty Images.

Tensions have again flared between the US and Iran. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, followed by Tehran’s warnings of resuming its nuclear programme, have revived a crisis that spans several decades.

Within the Trump administration, influential leaders - including National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - seem to be steering the US into conflict with Iran.

This conflict has never been a direct confrontation, instead mainly featuring in countries across the Middle East. Iraq has been the most cherished prize for both sides. Recently citing an increased threat, the US evacuated all non-essential staff from Iraq.…  Seguir leyendo »

On January 31, 2019, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom announced their most substantive move yet to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to which they are signatories, from collapse. With the European Union’s blessing, the three states established a special channel that shields trade with Iran from U.S. sanctions. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, or INSTEX, as the channel is called, holds out the possibility that Europe can yet salvage the nuclear agreement’s core bargain: that Iran was to limit its nuclear activities in return for the normalization of economic relations. The preservation of this arrangement will depend not only on the modicum of European-Iranian trade that INSTEX might help preserve but on whether Europe can navigate a narrow path between what Iran expects and what the United States can tolerate.…  Seguir leyendo »

A magnificent fresco adorns the main pavilion of the royal palace in the Iranian city of Isfahan, depicting the 16th-century Battle of Chaldiran, fought between the Turkish-Ottoman and Persian-Safavid empires. The fresco appears to show the Persian army victorious, having crushed its Turkish adversary. The truth is that Chaldiran marked a decisive victory for the Ottomans, who went on to annex eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. But what the self-serving historical distortion suggests is not shame of defeat but pride in the heroic valor with which the Iranians resisted a foe that outnumbered them and, unlike them, possessed heavy artillery. Donald Trump’s administration, which has made bringing Iranians to their knees the cornerstone of its Mideast policy half a millennium later, should draw a lesson from the battle and the way the Persians digested defeat.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, in 2010.CreditCreditMajid Asgaripour/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the year since the United States withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran, that country has practiced what its president, Hassan Rouhani, has described as “strategic patience.” But now Iran seems to be giving up on that.

On Wednesday, Mr. Rouhani announced that Iran would stop adhering to some of the deal’s provisions. Iran’s goal, though, is not to find a quick exit — or any exit at all — from the deal, but to signal to the European countries that also signed it that they can no longer sit by as the United States imposes sanctions and more generally piles pressure on Tehran.…  Seguir leyendo »

En el año 1971, un amplio abanico de mandatarios mundiales se congregaron en la ciudad iraní de Persépolis, la antigua capital del Imperio persa. Entre ellos, se encontraban personalidades tan destacadas y variopintas como Josip Broz Tito de Yugoslavia, Raniero y Grace Kelly de Mónaco, el vicepresidente estadounidense Spiro Agnew y el presidente de la Unión Soviética Nikolái Podgorni. La ocasión era una suntuosa fiesta convocada por el sah de Irán, Reza Pahleví, con motivo de los 2500 años de la fundación del Estado imperial de Irán.

Según el parecer del ayatolá Ruhollah Jomeini, que ocho años después se convertiría en el líder supremo iraní, lo que tuvo lugar en Persépolis fue nada menos que “el festival del diablo”.…  Seguir leyendo »