Why US Left Iran Nuclear Deal – And The Aftermath

Why US Left Iran Nuclear Deal - And The Aftermath

Finally, after going through Iran’s nuclear enrichment restart and the Iran nuclear deal, let us look at the equations from 2018 onwards when Trump made the US pullout from the deal and the strain present in the Middle East since.

Crux of the Matter

Trump Campaign
Donald Trump was elected as the US President in 2016. He had criticized the nuclear deal in his campaign for being too ‘soft’ on Iran. On 8 May 2018, Trump pulled out the US from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

If you missed our coverage on Iran’s 2015 Nuclear Deal, read it here.

Other members did not leave and criticized the US for withdrawal.

Analysts claim that the withdrawal was part of Trump’s undermining of Obama’s decisions including the Iran deal, Paris Agreement, Obamacare, etc. The other major reasons cited are as follows:

Deadline For Restrictions In The Deal

  • Restrictions on centrifuges count (5,060 under the deal) valid only till 2025.
  • Restrictions on Uranium enrichment level (3.67% in the deal) valid only till 2030.
  • Trump and other Republicans claimed that Iran may covertly develop nuclear program enough to rapidly develop weapons once restrictions end.

Lack Of Coverage Of Iran’s ‘Other Activities’

  • Trump claimed that the deal did not cover Iran’s regional terrorism and missile programmes.
  • Iran backs Hamas, Hezbollah and others labelled ‘terrorist organizations’ by the US since long.
  • However, experts differ by claiming that the way forward was to build on the deal to cover other activities and not the withdrawal.

Role Of Middle-East Neighbours

  • US allies and Iran nemeses Israel and Saudi Arabia were against the deal.
  • Israel PM Netanyahu had called it a “bad mistake of historic proportions”.
  • Saudi initially backed the deal but believed to be covertly against it – openly lauded Trump’s withdrawal in 2018.

Middle-East Equations

  • Iran backs Hamas – Palestinian organization committed to ‘destruction of Israel’.
  • Israel, in turn, backs People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – organization against Islamic extremism in Iran.
  • Iran-Saudi conflict over respective sects of Shia and Sunni of Islam as well as Islamic world leadership.

Deterioration Of The Situation Afterwards

  • The US re-imposed heavy sanctions on Iran which weakened its economy.
  • May 2019: Oil tankers from Saudi Arabia, Norway and UAE attacked in the Gulf of Oman – US and Saudi blamed Iran blamed for the attacks.
  • 4 July: Gibraltar and British marines seized the oil tanker ‘Grace 1’ of Iran for transporting oil to Syria illegally – reportedly seized at US request.
  • 20 July: Iran seized the oil tanker ‘Stena Impero’ of Britain near Strait of Hormuz for ‘violating maritime rules’.
  • July 2019: Iran announced ‘breach’ of the 300 kg limit on Uranium.

Soleimani Assassination And ‘Brink Of War’

  • 2 January 2020: A US drone strike killed Iran military General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.
  • 8 January: Iran launched rockets at the US bases in Iraq in retaliation – no casualties though.
  • The US and Iran were reportedly on the brink of war before the tension cooled off.

Iran Scientist Assassination

  • November 2020: Iran nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed – Iran blamed Israel.
  • Similar occurrences in 2010-12: 4 Iran nuclear scientists were killed.
  • Iran blames the killings on Israeli agency ‘Mossad’ (claim widely believed).
Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

Iran Announces Restart Of Nuclear Enrichment

Iran Announces Restart Of Nuclear Enrichment

As Iran announced enrichment of Uranium to 20%, well above the level specified in a previous Nuclear agreement, let us take a look at the possible challenges posed for US President-elect Biden as well as the possible support or a lack of from his Iranian counterpart.

Crux of the Matter

Announcement
On 2 January 2021, Iran announced its plan to enrich uranium up to 20% “as soon as possible”. The announcement comes amidst the last weeks of US Presidency of Trump before Joe Biden takes over.

The announcement was made on the first death anniversary of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian military General, who was killed by US drones on 2nd January 2020.

All Part Of The New Bill
Iran had passed the Bill on Nuclear enrichment in December 2020, aiming for enrichment to “pressure” Europe and the US to provide relief from sanctions. Iran had first informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has inspectors at the Nuclear plant. The Bill also allows Iran to “expel” those inspectors.

Previous Nuclear Deal

  • 20% enrichment of Uranium is 6 times the permissible level under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
  • The increased enrichment propels Iran near the level required for creating nuclear weapons.
  • Trump had withdrawn the US from the deal in 2018.
  • Several sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) and especially Trump under ‘maximum pressure’ policy on Iran.

The latest development has been cited by the US as Iran’s ploy to “intimidate” the world by its nuclear program. However, experts differ by labelling it as Iran’s way of pressurizing the upcoming US President Biden to restart the 2015 deal.

Possible Talks Between Biden And Rouhani?

  • Biden had claimed in his election manifesto to “re-enter” the deal and “extend” it to control “Iran’s other destabilizing activities”.
  • Also warned that the US rejoining the nuclear deal would be subject to “strict compliance” from Iran.
  • Iran President Hassan Rouhani has claimed to return to compliance with the deal “within an hour” of the US returning to it.
  • Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has publicly warned to not “trust” the US. However, he is believed to be supporting the revival privately though.

Read more about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal here: Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

Understanding 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal

With Iran announcing enrichment of Uranium to 20%, let us look at the historic Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015, its specifics, and its impact on the Middle-East as well as Europe and the US.

Crux of the Matter

2015 Agreement
On 14 July 2015, the Nuclear deal with Iran was signed. The full name of the deal is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It was signed by the P5+1 (permanent UNSC members + Germany).

Meaning:
US, UK, China, Russia, France, and Germany signed a deal with Iran. The agreement has been cited as a major achievement of the Obama Presidency in the US (Biden was Vice President then).

Aim

  • To limit Iran’s nuclear development to ‘peaceful’ energy use only.
  • Achieved by signing an agreement in exchange for removing several sanctions.
  • US, EU and UN had imposed heavy restrictions on Iran for its nuclear programme prior to the deal.

Specifics For Iran

  • 20,000 centrifuges to be reduced to 5,060.
    Centrifuges are devices used for enriching the usable Uranium.
  • 98% reduction in the stock of Uranium to bring it down to 300kg.
  • 3.67% is the specified maximum level of enrichment of the stock.
  • Redesign Heavy-Water reactor to not produce ‘weapon-grade plutonium’ fit for a nuclear weapon.
  • Required to adhere to any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection request within 24 days window.

Impact
As per US experts in 2015:

  • Iran was capable of having 90% enriched Uranium to build Nuclear weapon within 2-3 months with stock prior to the Agreement.
  • Agreement measures increased that time to 1 year or more.

Result Of The 2015 Deal

  • Iranian overseas assets worth $100 billion unfrozen.
  • Sanctions from the US, UK, and the UN lifted.
  • The sanctions had made Iran lose oil revenue of $160 billion between 2012 and 2016 alone.
  • Iran’s oil and other global businesses kick-started with the signing of the Agreement.

No credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.

IAEA December 2015 Report
Curiopedia
  • The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons. It was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada.
  • Trinity was the code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project.
  • Nuclear ethics is a cross-disciplinary field of academic and policy-relevant study in which the problems associated with nuclear warfare, nuclear deterrence, nuclear arms control, nuclear disarmament, or nuclear energy are examined through one or more ethical or moral theories or frameworks

New Strain In Relations Of Israel And Iran

Recent incidents at nuclear sites in Iran have added further strain to its relations with Israel, with the two being in conflict for decades.

Crux of the Matter

Iran – Nuclear Site Incidents
An explosion occurred recently at the Natanz nuclear centre in Iran. The incidents follow recent explosions at missile production sites, located near the Parchin military complex. Experts have claimed the attacks as “sabotages” and have blamed Israel. However, Israel has denied the claims.

Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us. All those systems are complex, they have very high safety constraints and I’m not sure they always know how to maintain them

Benny Gantz, Defence Minister, Israel

Possible Causes
Israel and US Apprehension
Analysts have claimed that Israel attacked the nuclear sites of Iran to hinder its nuclear development programme. The claim connects to the history of Israel, as the country and the US consider Iran’s nuclear development a threat. Starting in the 1st decade of the 21st century, the US and Israel reportedly carried on Operation Olympic Games for several years, launching cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Retaliation Over Water
Another reason being claimed by analysts is that Israel retaliated after Iran reportedly launched a cyberattack in April to contaminate Israel’s water supply.

Chinese Angle
Several experts have claimed the animosity between Israel and China as a possible cause of the incident. They have claimed that since Iran uses the JY-14 radar system made by China, Israel used its F-35 jets to test and possibly demonstrate strength against the Chinese equipment.

History Of Iran-Israel

  • Initially, both countries shared a cordial relationship. After Turkey, Iran was the 2nd Muslim majority country to recognize Israel as a sovereign nation.
  • Relations deteriorated in 1979 when the Iranian revolution occurred. New leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini broke ties with Israel and did not recognize it as an official state. Since then, Iran backs Palestine in its conflict with Israel and provides arms to it.
  • 1992: The Israeli embassy in Argentina was attacked reportedly by Iran.
  • 1994: Attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires occurs, reportedly done by Iran.
  • Iran is accused of funding the Hamas organization, which is committed to the destruction of Israel. Israel, on the other hand, allegedly supports the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran, which seeks to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • 2011: Mossad, Israel’s National Intelligence Agency, reportedly attacked an Iranian military base.
  • 2012: 4 Iranian nuclear scientists were allegedly killed by Israel.

Curiopedia
  • Pokhran is a remote location in the Thar Desert region and served as the test site for India’s first underground nuclear weapon , ballistic missiles. Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran is an Indian drama film based on the nuclear bomb test explosions conducted by the Indian Army at Pokhran in 1998.
  • The Israeli Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on 14 May 1948 by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and soon to be the first Prime Minister of Israel. It declared the establishment to be known as the State of Israel, which would come into effect on termination of the British Mandate at midnight that day.
  • Ruhollah Khomeini was an Iranian politician, revolutionary, and cleric. He was the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which saw the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and the end of the 2,500-year-old Persian monarchy.

Mistakenly Hit Ukraine Airplane, Cowers Iran

Ukraine International Airline Passenger Plane PS752 crashed near Tehran in Iran on 8th January. After many to and fro allegations, Iran has taken full responsibility for the attack. It said that it had ‘mistakenly‘ shot down the plane.

Crux of the Matter

PS752 Down, PS752 Down!
Amidst escalating tension between Iran and USA, Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS752 came crashing down in Iran on January 8, 2020. The Boeing 757-800 that took off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport headed to Kiev. After reaching nearly 2000 meters altitude, the plane came crashing down at a distance of 15 kilometers from the airport.

Nearly 176 people on board were killed. People belonging to Iran, Canada, Afghanistan, Sweden, Germany, and Britain were onboard. Rescue teams were sent on the crash site. Iran reported that the flight crashed due to some technical error. Whereas the United States and many other nations argued that it was shot down by Iran.

Crash Stirs Up Tension
UIA plane crash stirred up nations because of its timing. Iran, in retaliation to the murder of General Soleimani, conducted air-strikes on US Bases in Iraq just before the crash. Many speculated that the plane was downed by Iran, but Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization‘s (CIO) first probe suggested that the crash was due to technical error.

Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called out an investigation in the matter. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau blamed Iran for orchestrating the plane crash by shooting it down with a missile. However, Iran’s CIO Leader, Ali Abedzadeh, affirmed that ‘no missile hit the aircraft’.

Boeing planes have a history of crashes. Iran denied claims of the US and other nations and said that the accusations were an attempt to protect the company. Road and Transport Ministry of Iran also stated that the plane crash was because the engine of the plane caught fire. On top of that, some investigators said that evidence from the site might have been wiped by Iran. Iran had bluntly denied the accusations.

Misfire, Says Iran
3 days after the crash, the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran came forward and said that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukranian Airplane. It said that the plane had gradually started moving towards a critical area of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). IRGC Aerospace Commander, Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that the “force took full responsibility” of the crash. Given the jittering situation after bombing US sites in Iraq, Iran military thought that this plane, flying at an altitude, and in an enemy-like posture, to be a ‘hostile target‘. Then the plane was attacked with a missile. Iran’s military has said that it will work on improving its systems so as to prevent any such error. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane & death of 176 innocent people. Investigations continue to identify & prosecute this great tragedy & unforgivable mistake.”

Aftermath
Iran’s probe in the crash has led to arrests of a few officials and the person who was filming the missile strike. Iran has neither disclosed the charges against the arrested nor the number and names of the arrested. Iran might be paying a total of $150 mn in damages.

A video of the missile strike, first surfaced by American news agencies, suggests that two missiles had hit the airplane. On the other hand, protests are sprouting in Iran. Around 30 protestors were detained by Iranian authorities. The protestors are demanding accountability from Iran’s leaders. They also raised slogans against Iran’s top leaders.

Global tension due to US-Iran retaliation has spiked. With tragedies like these engulfing Iran in fire from the inside and US targeting Iran’s stealth from the outside, nations are ambivalent about global peace.

Curiopedia

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