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
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.
- 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).
- 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
- BBC – Three reasons behind Trump ditching Iran deal
- The Hindu – Who was General Qasem Soleimani and why was he so popular?
- Vox – Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, explained
- Al Jazeera – Past and present: Israel’s targeting of Iran nuclear aspirations
- USA Today – Timeline: How tensions escalated with Iran since Trump withdrew US from nuclear deal