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Why Iran may become a latent nuclear state

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As the negotiations to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement resume in Vienna, it is a déjà vu all over again. The United States warns of crippling sanctions, Israel threatens war, the Europeans plead and prod, and the Arabs watch from the sidelines, as Iran drags out the talks and accelerates its uranium enrichment.

Except this time, diplomacy seems destined to fail, leaving the door open to a number of scenarios, which, thanks to former US President Donald Trump and his Middle East brain trust, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, include war and/or the distinct possibility of Iran becoming a latent nuclear state.

After all, it was Trump who decided to nuke the internationally recognised 2015 agreement. After repeatedly condemning it as “rotten” and “disastrous”, he abandoned it in 2018 on the basis of unsubstantiated and unrelated allegations.

To make matters worse, Trump imposed new crippling sanctions on Iran, including secondary sanctions on third parties trading with the country, and ordered the assassination of its most revered general, Qassem Soleimani.

Boxed in, Iran lashed out in all directions. Most importantly, it renewed its uranium enrichment programme, bringing it ever closer to weapons-grade level.

After US President Joe Biden took office in January, he failed to use the small window of opportunity to disavow his predecessor’s policies and get the deal back on track in the first half of the year. His attempts to exploit Trump’s sanctions to force Tehran into accepting new conditions have backfired.

In August, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline cleric and a protégé of Supreme........

© Al Jazeera

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