Middle East

Iran’s nuclear enrichment game – Analysis

In those business sections of bookstores where there are often books on “how to negotiate,” there should be a new book added that examines Iran’s negotiating strategy regarding its nuclear program.

Since Tehran successfully negotiated the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it has also successfully put the Western powers on the defensive regarding its ambitions. This is not just about Iran getting a nuclear bomb, but really about Iran getting everything else it wants, including financial incentives and foreign policy incentives not to build a bomb.

This strategy was on display this week when Iran said that European countries had not met its demands, and that a 60-day ultimatum that the Islamic republic put out in May had not been met. What Tehran did in essence was give the Europeans a year to come up with a way to help it avoid a reimposition of US sanctions, which increased after America left the Iran deal in May 2018.
When May 2019 came around and the European countries had still not created a financial mechanism to help Iran avoid the biting US sanctions, Iran decided to move forward with its “good cop, bad cop” strategy.

Let’s recall that the Iran deal was entered into by the US, UK, Russia, France, China, Germany and the European Union. For Iran, the issue is not Russia, China or the US – it already has amicable relations with China and Russia, made clear by meetings last month in Central Asia, and the US and Iran are at odds under the Trump administration. For Tehran then the issues with Washington are sunk costs; it isn’t yet willing to re-negotiate the deal. The US has said that “maximum pressure” in terms of sanctions will result until Iran comes begging.

So Iran, which won’t beg or bend, eyes the European countries as the weakest link in the Iran deal framework. The UK is in the middle of Brexit chaos, so France and Germany are thus the addresses to whom Iran is writing.

Read more at The Jerusalem Post

About the author

Seth J. Frantzman