The US-Iran Standoff: A Diplomatic Stagnation Leading To Global Insecurity – OpEd


The United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran are not ready for “Mutual Compliance” on the resurrection of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA, also known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. The civilized world has reasons for caution because, amid the months locked in negotiations, Tehran has produced 25 kg of 60pc enriched uranium standard only nuclear power countries can yield, and Washington is failing in its every endeavor to bring Tehran back into full compliance. The Iranian agitation, which is a violation of the Non-proliferation treaty NPT and International Atomic Energy Commission IAEA, is making a way clear for its nuclear designs. It has raised serious concerns of infuriating the American-led world order and giving birth to fresh geopolitical dimensions in the region. And, the historic avenues of Vienna are ready again to host a landmark one of the most deadly deadlocks of recent times on Nov 29, 2021.  

The JCPOA is a multilateral diplomatic arrangement that intends to withdraw the sanctions on Iran at the coast of abrogating its nuclear setup. The USA and the Islamic republic mutually complied with the pact back in 2015, but in 2018 with the arrival of the Trump Administration, Washington withdrew and imposed unilateral sanctions on Tehran. Since then, Tehran has been yielding enriched uranium and prohibiting international inspections. It has virtually achieved the capability to produce weapon-grade uranium. Article 12 of the statute of IAEA prohibits non-compliance with international inspectors, and Article 3 of the charter of NPT prohibits the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful to non-peaceful uses.  Now, Biden Administration vows to reinstate the treaty due to growing Iranian assertions while aiming at some substitutions in the treaty. Whereas Iran calls for the pact with the old provisions- a deadlock remains.

It is trending in dangerous directions because the USA may begin with what the commentators call ‘Plan B’ of maximum pressure to make Iran comply. On the other hand, Tehran will intend to meet fire with fire; and will not back down. M. Ayatullah Tabaar writes in the Foreign Affairs Journal that Tehran’s policy is: not giving in to coercion, increasing military capability, and boast relations with the Asian countries. It is estimated that Washington can deploy nuclear weapons in the Gulf to contain any possible Iranian aggression. In doing so, Tehran will further be provoked to go nuclear, and it will leave a scenario for what Gram Allison calls ‘Use it or lose it’ in the dangerous Fog of War. It is also crucial to assert that despite American sanctions, China is purchasing 1 million barrels of oil from Iran per day, and 40 percent of Iran’s foreign policy activities are noted as economic-centric and are also rapidly enhancing domestic industries. The American policy of Isolation is turning leakier, providing Iran to absorb international pressure and go nuclear, and nuclear Iran makes the world a more dangerous place to live.

Tehran’s nuclear aspirations may pull off due to the failure of American policy that can create a potential threat to international and regional order. Given the US-Iran relations since 1979, Tehran has become assertive towards the US-led regional and global system. With the arrival of nuclear deterrence, the cleric regime will pose a threat to American interests in the Middle East; will endanger US allies and its security Umbrella. Resultantly, a traditional balance of power can begin. To contain Iran, the US may come with its policy of ‘Offshore Balancing”, and consequently, an arms race may become legitimate.

The coalition of pro-Iran Syrian forces, Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to whom Iran calls the “Axis of Resistance” is an anti-western and anti-Saudi military alliance. Iran’s nuclear gains will bring it in the position of strength and economic stability, which might increase daily confrontations in the region. Rather than uniting, Tehran’s ambitions will further divide the Muslim world. In the same vein, the Strait of Hormuz, a major shipping route from where one-third of global oil passes, is likely to become under Tehran’s influence. Iran will become capable enough to block it. The global supply chain may become a valid reason for a global escalation.  

Iran’s nuclear designs, for sure intensify ‘Nuclear Aspirations’ in the region and the globe. The non-proliferation regimes are weak, and their weakness is reflected by the recent deal known as AUKUS. These aspirations will trigger Ankara and Riyadh to go nuclear. More severely, the uncertain cleric regime in Tehran can also transfer nuclear know-how to its allies based on what SP. Huntington calls ‘Kin-Country syndrome’, and the volatile region of the Middle East cannot bear a nuclear race amid escalations in part that reached its zenith. Tehran’s going nuclear will also weak Washington’s stance on non-proliferation. These circumstances will further provide legitimacy to North Korea’s nuclear designs in a region where Australia, thanks to Washington, achieved a nuclear-powered submarines deal. The US will not have any diplomatic rationale to convince Pyongyang and other regional anti-Sino actors in the region. 

Concluding, the US cannot think of its traditional policy of ‘act of regime change’ because research concludes that 90 percent of the masses favor Tehran’s nuclear policy whatever it costs them. Since the sanctions failed and the military capability of the US has passed political determinations. Hence, the more both administrations to the deadlock wait, the more tensions increase. The US has to move quickly to bring Iran into compliance, as history bears witness that whenever the US worked with like-minded states of Western Europe, the chances of diplomatic success has emerged, and it has to follow suit the same policy else each passing day will provide Tehran leverage for further enrichment. The Trump withdrawal has resulted in the decay of American credibility and created a trust deficit. Iran has a diplomatic rationale to utilize this fact and play it and shelter it for its nuclear ambitions. Therefore, the provisions of JCPOA are time-limited, yet the US has to carry the old provisions despite the concerns from Congress and other elements to compensate and accommodate Iran.    

*Shah Meer is an undergraduate student of International Relations at the University of Balochistan. He is the vice president, of the Human rights Commission of Balochistan Pakistan and can be reached at [email protected].  

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