Iran: Can the unraveling nuclear deal be saved?
My country is beginning to lose its patience, said Hossein Mousavian, a former member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, in The Guardian (U.K.). Iran scrupulously kept to the terms of the 2015 international deal brokered by the Obama administration, which severely limited Iranian nuclear programs in exchange for the easing of sanctions. Even after the Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the pact in May 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions, Iran gave the other signatories to the deal—Russia, China, the European Union, Germany, France, and the U.K.—a year to find a work-around. They didn’t, and our economy has suffered horribly. Inflation is above 50 percent, and our oil exports have plummeted from 2.5 million barrels a day to only 300,000. Tehran “cannot be expected to fully comply with the deal when others are failing to meet their obligations.” That’s why Iran last month exceeded the pact’s 660-pound limit on its uranium stockpile and announced it will enrich uranium to about 5 percent, above the 3.7 percent limit allowed by the deal but still well below the 90 percent needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran has been more than restrained. If President Trump wants to “resolve this unnecessary, self-imposed crisis, he needs to make a swift, strategic turnaround.”
Iran is no innocent party, said Gulf News (United Arab Emirates) in an editorial. It has been “intent on disrupting international maritime trade and creating a crisis in the global oil and energy markets.” British marines recently seized an Iranian oil tanker in the Mediterranean as it attempted to violate international sanctions and deliver fuel to the Syrian regime. In retaliation, three Iranian gunboats tried to intercept a British tanker, a “brazen act of piracy.” They backed away when a British warship intervened. And in recent months, at least four tankers in the Arabian Gulf have been damaged by explosions that bore Iran’s fingerprints. All this proves that Tehran “has nothing but contempt for the rule of international law.”
Still, Europe is “going all-out to save the nuclear deal,” said Rafaële Rivais in Le Monde (France). European foreign ministers this week declared that while Iran had breached the deal by ramping up production of enriched uranium, its steps were “reversible” and “not significant,” so they declined to punish Iran. Europe is still trying to convince Iran that it can make up for the U.S. sanctions through Instex, a barter system that bypasses the American financial system. This could have long-term consequences for America, said Rami Khouri in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed (U.K.). Russia and China are determined to buy Iranian oil, under the table if necessary. They are also exploring payment mechanisms that don’t rely on U.S. dollars. If successful, that Beijing-Moscow venture will undermine the dollar’s role as the global currency. This year could mark the beginning of the end for the “unipolar” U.S.-dominated world order that emerged at the end of the Cold War. ■