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 »
For much of 2019, Crisis Group has warned that a trigger event could spark direct military confrontation between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, on one side, and Iran on the other, precipitating a regional conflagration. The combination of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran, Iranian pushback, the spiralling civil war in Yemen and the paucity of de-escalation channels available to the rival actors has primed the region for such an outcome, even if neither side wants it. Now more than ever, cooler heads are needed to lower the temperature, break the escalatory cycle and chart a diplomatic off-ramp.
The exact nature and provenance of the attacks remains disputed.… 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 »
In February, Iran marked the fortieth anniversary of the 1979 revolution. That pivotal event fundamentally recast the country’s domestic sociopolitical structures, upending centuries of monarchical rule in favor of a new Islamic Republicanism that has interwoven, at times to considerable strain, participatory and authoritarian dimensions. It also upended Iran’s relations with both its neighbours and world powers, replacing a firmly pro-Western government with an ideologically-minded new leadership who championed export of their revolution and an independent path between the Cold War’s rival camps. Four decades on, Iran finds itself in a moment of great opportunity as well as great peril, entangled in a growing rivalry with the U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
The re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors on 5 November is a key element of Washington’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May presaged a more ambitious strategic objective: to substantially recast not only Tehran’s nuclear activities, but its domestic and regional policies as well. The result arguably is one of the most audacious U.S. policy plays toward Iran since the 1979 revolution, playing out across a fractured and fragile region.
President Trump’s hostility to the JCPOA was evident on the campaign trail, and his administration adopted a hard stance against Iran from its early days: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” in February 2017, and Trump himself castigated Iran during his May 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia.… Seguir leyendo »