Rather than diffuse the situation before things get out of control, as we had advised several weeks ago, leaders in Iran, the U.S. and Israel are rattling their sabers with increasing intensity. It wouldn’t take much for things to get out of control, resulting in full-scale war.
So once again, we urge all sides to temper their rhetoric and to find a way of ending Iran’s stepped-up uranium enrichment program.
The government in Tehran revealed last month it planned to start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels.
On Sunday, Iran’s atomic agency announced that enrichment of the uranium stockpile had topped 3.6 percent; on Monday, the enrichment level was more than 4.5 percent, according to Forbes magazine. To be usable in a nuclear weapon, uranium must first go through the chemical process of enrichment.
President Donald J. Trump wasted no time in denouncing Iran’s two violations of an international agreement designed to prevent the Islamic theocracy from having a nuclear weapon.
“It’s no good, they better be careful,” said Trump, who in 2018 withdrew the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and imposed stiff economic sanctions on Iran.
The signatories in 2015 to the agreement were: Iran; the U.S., under former President Barack Obama; Britain; China; Russia; Germany; and France.
The European nations urged Trump not to pull out, but the Republican president contended that the agreement was an abject failure and that Iran had violated its terms from day one.
He also contended U.S. withdrawal and the harsh economic sanctions against the nation governed by Islamic clerics – ayatollahs – would make the world a safer place.
But Trump has miscalculated Iran’s insistence on using the enriched uranium “for peaceful purposes only.” In addition, the government in Tehran blamed the country’s economic collapse on the wide-ranging sanctions imposed by Washington.
Iran first violated the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on July 1, shortly after the sanctions took effect.
The situation gets more dangerous with each passing day.
The Trump administration has blamed the Iranians for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and for shooting down a U.S. Navy drone.
Diplomacy between the two countries has ceased.
Trump’s warnings of retaliation have prompted this threat from Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission:
“If the U.S. attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan.”
Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was quick to respond.
“Lately, Iran has been threatening Israel with destruction,” Netanyahu said this week, while standing in front of an F-35 Adir jet during a visit to the Nevatim Air Force Base. “It should remember that these planes can reach every place in the Middle East, including Iran, and of course Syria.”
Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East, has long considered Iran its greatest threat. The Iranians, who have long been viewed as the leading sponsor of global terrorism, have made no secret of their desire to wipe the Jewish state off the face of the earth.
Like Trump, Netanyahu has expressed deep concern about Iran’s announcement that it would exceed the uranium-enrichment cap set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
It is worth noting that the Israeli leader had urged his friend, the American president, to pull the U.S. out of the agreement.
The U.S. and Israel are urging the European nations that signed the pact to enforce its provisions.
However, with Trump doubling down on the economic sanctions against Iran, the ayatollahs, who are in ultimate control of the country, aren’t likely to succumb to such pressure.
Indeed, Trump has said he plans to impose even greater sanctions on the Islamic Republic in the belief that the implosion of the economy will bring the Iranians to their senses.
However, Trump’s deployment of 1,000 more troops to the Middle East, in addition to a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group, decades-old B-52 bombers, a Patriot missile battery and an amphibious supply ship sent to the region in early June, has not intimidated Tehran.
A military strike against the country was on the verge of occurring when Trump changed his mind.
If Trump and Netanyahu are waiting for Iran to blink first, they’re in for a long wait.