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An Iranian engineer recently died and another employee was wounded in an “unexplained incident” at the Parchin military complex where International Atomic Energy Agency officials previously believed the country had been conducting research on nuclear weapons.
As CBS News explained, the US and other countries levied sanctions against Iranian leaders in Tehran to stop them from manufacturing nuclear weapons. In 2015, the two sides reached a deal that would have suspended the country’s nuclear program. US President Donald Trump pulled out from the accord in 2018, however. Feeling betrayed, Iran has since surpassed the accord’s production limits.
The deadly incident occurred as former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt and Javier Solana, the ex-secretary general of NATO and the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post warning of a coming crisis with Iran unless the US gets the nuclear deal back on track.
American officials have been negotiating with their Iranian counterparts in Vienna for months. But the top US envoy to the discussions recently said the chances of reviving some aspects of the 2015 nuclear deal were “tenuous at best,” reported CNN.
The envoy spoke on the same day that the US issued new sanctions on Iran in retaliation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force illegally selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Iranian oil. The US has also confiscated Iranian oil in tankers that were allegedly flouting US sanctions.
Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian insists that American officials must lift sanctions if they want to sign a new accord, as Reuters wrote. Amir-Abdollahian also claimed that the “Zionist” influence in American politics was preventing an accord, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Iran can afford to play hardball. Despite infrastructure problems – consider this building collapse reported by the BBC – the high price of oil and closer relations with another international rogue state, Russia, have buoyed the regime’s hand, Bloomberg noted.
Even so, the regime is under pressure to deliver relief from spiking prices and shortages that have led to deadly protests in recent weeks.
That said, the historic anti-Semitism from Iranian leaders is one reason why Israeli officials are becoming more antagonistic toward them. Recently, agents from Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, assassinated Iranian Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, a Revolutionary Guard leader, in Tehran in broad daylight. The killing was a sign of how deeply the Mossad has penetrated Iran’s security apparatus, Haaretz argued.
Israeli officials, meanwhile, thought it was a mistake for the US to pull out of the 2015 nuclear accord, Axios added.
Regardless, as the Conversation noted, it’s important to get the deal back on track and rein in Iran’s nuclear program. That’s likely only possible with concessions – and good faith – on both sides.