Since antiquity, Iran has supported myriad dynasties and a rich civilization, and to this day it has a strong identity. To safeguard that dignity, it should continue to exercise the highest level of restraint.
The international agreement on Iran’s nuclear development is under more and more threat. Iran abided by the deal even after America’s unilateral withdrawal, but it has gradually begun to withdraw.
The Iranian economy is in dire straits due to American sanctions. If these are not alleviated by July 7, Iran will expand its noncompliance with the agreement’s terms.
Already this month, Iran has surpassed its limit for storage of low enriched uranium. It has announced that starting on July 7, it will enrich uranium above the regulated limit.
Enriching uranium beyond the level needed for nuclear fuel is connected with nuclear weapon development. This would bring Iran and the world to the brink of catastrophe. It dare not take this step.
Given the hard-liners in the Donald Trump administration in the U.S., this could become grounds for the use of force. It is worrisome that a chain reaction could begin, leading to an attack by Israel or nuclear development by Saudi Arabia.
The nuclear deal reached four years ago exchanged limitations on nuclear development for economic sanctions relief. Because America’s withdrawal last year prompted a renewal of these sanctions, Iran’s options—like exporting oil, its lifeline—have narrowed.
The blame for these developments would first and foremost fall on America. The crisis was born out of the recklessness of the Trump administration, which hates international cooperation, and therefore global society has refrained from criticizing Iran.
Yet, if Iran plunges ahead with dangerous nuclear development, the international conversation will likely shift. Wringing out concessions with threats and pressure is a favorite tactic of the Trump administration, but if Iran responds similarly, the fear of a clash that nobody desires would heighten even more.
The five countries remaining in the nuclear agreement (Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia) must support the Iranian economy and hurry with measures that safeguard against a worsening of the situation.
Last month, Britain, Germany and France launched an organization to allow Iran to continue trade. But the results of this cannot be deemed sufficient. This month, further cabinet-level meetings among the countries concerned were arranged.
Currently, Iran and Europe are united in their wish to abide by the nuclear pact. Instability in the Middle East is a global threat, and China and Russia should join Europe in strengthening their cooperation.
While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani explained that he was “enriching only as much as necessary,” Trump responded, “[Threats] can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before,” increasing the tension.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Iran last month, cannot just get by with expressing fear, either. He should come to an close mutual understanding with America, Iran and Europe and aim for a relaxation of tensions.