Just as indirect talks between the United States and Iran began over reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, one of Iran’s nuclear facilities was attacked, with Israel, a long-standing opponent of the deal, believed to be the perpetrator. For the sake of the deal, the international community must stand as one and put a stop to such agitations.
The facility in question, the Natanz uranium-enrichment site in central Iran, was attacked on April 11, and received damage to its electrical system, among other things. Sabotage was also alleged last July when an explosion rocked the same facility. While foul play hasn’t officially been cited, hours after the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, “[t]he fight against Iran and its metastases and against Iranian armament is a huge task.” Israeli internal media also reported that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, operated in the background of the incident, leaving Israel’s involvement highly likely.
If that’s the case, then the real target was the talks between the U.S. and Iran, moderated by the EU, which started on April 6 and focused on a return to the deal that the previous Donald Trump administration reneged on and the economic sanctions that followed. Netanyahu, however, called the deal “[a]n agreement with Iran that would pave the way to nuclear weapons … ” Also that day, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps spy ship was attacked in the Red Sea. American news outlets reported that, according to an anonymous U.S. official, Israel informed the United States that it carried out the attack. This was a clear attempt at breeding increased distrust of America in Iran, for who would negotiate with someone that would allow such attacks on them? This attack also dealt a blow to the U.S., as Iran increased its uranium enrichment to 60% in response.
The Joe Biden administration initially dragged its feet on renewing the nuclear deal, leading a frustrated Iran to sign a comprehensive 25-year cooperation agreement with China, which is extending its reach to other countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The dread of losing ground to China forced the U.S. to participate in these talks.
As negotiations have just started, the biggest challenge for America will be keeping nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands, especially as Iran approaches presidential elections this June, where conservative hawks taking an anti-American platform have found great success. The sudden revival of these talks is a means to that end. Arriving at detente in the region is vital for the United States.
However, opposition from Iran’s rivals, such as Israel and the Gulf states, is only growing stronger. In order to allay the concerns of these countries, America, with the support of other nations like Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany, must use whatever kind of persuasion it can to prevent any further incidents.