Gone are the days of negotiations with Iran, warn Israeli analysts
As Iran continues to advance its nuclear program and the United States pushes for a return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, some are warning that the time for negotiations is over.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that it “is not clear” whether Tehran is ready to comply with the nuclear deal signed with world powers.
Speaking at a hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Blinken also said that Iran’s time to assemble a nuclear weapon could drop to just weeks if it continues to violate the laws. terms of the pact.
The United States and Iran began indirect talks in Vienna in April to reach an agreement and resume compliance with the nuclear deal reached in 2015 and which the Trump administration left in 2018.
In the wake of Blinken’s comments, regional analysts say a different approach is now needed.
Dr Soli Shahvar, founding director of the Ezri Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the University of Haifa, says the Western policy of “appeasement” has proved unsuccessful.
“I see no reason to keep trying to get back to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] or in the conduct of negotiations, ”Shahvar says, using the official name of the nuclear deal.
“The logical thing to do would be to continue the sanctions and take even more aggressive action against Iran. … If I were an advisor, I would recommend toughening up the policy.
Shahvar, an Iranian-born scholar who now lives in the northern city of Haifa, said the tougher measures should not be limited to the economic realm, but could also include support for human rights groups in Iran and adding more regime-related individuals to a terrorist watch list.
There is no possibility of successfully negotiating with Tehran due to its religious extremism and continued human rights violations, Shahvar says.
From a Middle Eastern perspective, insisting on talks is seen as a form of weakness and only serves to encourage the leadership of the Islamic Republic to continue down the path they have taken.
“It’s a mad regime that only creates terror, violence and death, so how can you accept it?” How to come [Western powers] do not help their natural allies, the Iranian people? Shahvar said.
“We know that Iran is in a very dangerous economic situation,” he said. “You have to create the circumstances so that the people themselves can rise up against their own regime, which they despise. “
The growing influence of China and Russia in the region further complicates matters.
China recently signed a 25-year, $ 400 billion trade deal with the Islamic Republic, which will see China invest in Iranian infrastructure. For its part, Russia has repeatedly supported Iran on several key issues and views Tehran as a regional ally.
Avi Melamed, president and founder of Inside the Middle East: Intelligence Perspectives, says Iran has presented the international community with a multi-faceted challenge.
The nuclear program is one of many problems, he says, with Iran’s missile program and its use of militias or proxy groups across the Middle East.
The JCPOA, says Melamed, has done little to curb these assaults.
“Some in the international community still insist on turning a blind eye to the serious and complex challenge presented by the Iranian regime,” said Melamed.
“We are facing a growing and serious Iranian threat in the region. The alarm bells should have sounded long ago in Western capitals. Sadly, Western leaders either failed or were unwilling to take on this challenge and it will only get worse. “
Besides Israel, other major players in the Middle East also view Tehran’s nuclear aspirations as a major threat, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Like Shahvar, Melamed believes the United States and Western Europe need to take a much more hard-line approach on the issue.
“It seems there is a worrying disconnect between the rhetoric and the statements, and what is happening on the ground,” he said.
Israel’s new government could also change parts of the equation over Iran’s nuclear program in new and unexpected ways.
Led by Yamina’s Naftali Bennett, the coalition – which spans Israel’s political spectrum from left to right and even includes an Islamist party – looks set to be sworn in on Sunday.
While Melamed doesn’t expect Bennett’s approach to Iran to be any different from that of his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, the change could pave the way for a more productive dialogue with Western allies.
“This is an interesting aspect because it is very clear that Mr. Netanyahu, for various reasons, was generating a kind of resentment within the governments of Western Europe and the Biden administration,” Melamed said.
“In this context, we might expect a more harmonious dialogue between the new government and the Biden administration.”