Biden’s first foreign policy test: Iran- China and North Korea are watching the show
Even before his inauguration, Biden faces his first practical test. After the termination of the nuclear agreement and Biden’s election victory, the IAEA is publishing a report warning that Iran is rapidly enriching uranium and may be able to use it to build 3 atomic bombs in the foreseeable future. Tehran also announced that it would only revive the Irandeal in its old form and not renegotiate any additional claims. Trump now wants to tighten the sanctions further, put Biden under pressure that he does not give in and upholds the maximum pressure strategy. Israel reacts with warnings, and the settlement minister even threatens a military attack. Furthermore, presidential elections are pending in Iran and as Rouhani’s position is weakened by Trump’s termination of the Iran deal and the sanctions, it remains to be seen whether the hardliners and the Revolutionary Guards will gain votes or whether the social protests against the mullahs‘ regime will generate an opposing force in the elections.
“This Iran report sends new shock waves
through the Middle East
The discovery of large quantities of enriched uranium in Iran puts the USA in a delicate phase. As the outgoing president, Trump wants to impose as many sanctions as possible, while Biden is planning a new nuclear deal. The first threats have already been heard from Israel.
The result is alarming: In its latest report on Iran’s nuclear activities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concludes that the clerical regime now has more than 2,400 kilograms of enriched uranium. That is twelve times more than he was entitled to under the 2015 nuclear deal. According to the IAEA, this amount could be enough to build three atomic bombs if Tehran enriches the material even higher.
But not only that. The report goes on to say that inspectors discovered uranium particles in an undeclared facility. Tehran’s explanations of how the nuclear material got there would be „not credible“. The IAEA calls for a „full and swift explanation“ for this.
The report sends new shock waves through the Middle East, which has already become troubled after the election of Joe Biden as the next US president. Because unlike in Europe, where the victory of the Democrat was celebrated, there are now fears in Israel and in the Gulf a new phase of American appeasement towards Tehran. „We are concerned,“ say diplomatic circles in Israel. „But the Saudis are downright scared.“
(…) Biden’s foreign policy advisors describe the re-entry of the USA as a “top priority”. They emphasize that they want to negotiate tougher conditions for Iran. It is not yet clear which strategy Biden will choose. And how far he is actually prepared to accommodate Iran. But his opponents aren’t waiting for that either. Immediately after the election victory, the Trump administration tried everything to block the feared path back to the Obama course for the next administration. And apparently there is plenty of support in the Middle East. (…)
Crucial here: Trump no longer links sanctions only to violations by Iran of the nuclear agreement, but also to violations of human rights and the promotion of terrorist groups. There are few sanctions that the next US administration cannot reverse, says Naysan Rafati, Iran expert at the International Crisis Group. „But these are harder to get out of the way because you have to make it credible that terrorism is no longer a problem.“
Even Biden supporters recognize that Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy has created optimal negotiating conditions for the future US administration. The easing of the sanctions that have brought Tehran to the brink of financial collapse could stimulate the regime to renegotiate the deal.
However, there are new elections in Iran in June. It is expected that Biden will have to deal with even more difficult negotiating partners afterwards. „I don’t see why Iran should agree to tougher conditions,“ says Raz Zektiven, an Iran expert at the Israel Institute for National Security Studies.
“Especially since the economic relief from the original nuclear deal has had less of a positive effect on the Iranian economy than Tehran had hoped.” Iranian officials have recently announced that they will initially demand “compensation” from Biden for the economic damage that Trump’s sanctions give them have inflicted.
In the Middle East, there is great concern that Biden’s future government will gamble away the good cards that their predecessors gave them. Should there actually be new negotiations with Iran, Israel, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia will demand a say. And they will want to ensure that the missile program and Iran’s “terror sponsorship” also become part of an improved agreement. (…) Biden will have to show that he takes their security interests into account. Otherwise, Israel could feel compelled to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran before it can actually build three atomic bombs. Israel’s settlement minister recently made this threat. Should Biden return to Obama’s deal without reworking, Tzachi Hanegbi said, „it will ultimately lead to a confrontation between Israel and Iran.“
In any case, Biden is under closer scrutiny from Trump and the Republicans as to whether he will simply reinstate the Irandeal. Although Biden might reverse the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the annexation of the West Bank to Israel, and again propagate the two-state solution, but Trump’s undoubted successes in recognizing diplomatic relations with Israel by some Muslim countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, such as his insistence that there can only be a deal with Iran if it withdraws its expansion in the Shiite Crescent, its missile programs and terrorist support, Biden cannot simply ignore.
At the same time, Iran calls on its Gulf neighbors to cooperate and that they should no longer rely on the US as a guarantor of peace. MENA-Watch sees this sort of a peace offer as an undisguised threat. should the other Gulf States not join a Pax Iranicana and submit to Iran´s demands:
End of Trump’s term of office:
Iran threatens its neighbors in the region
While Trump is leaving office in January and can no longer guarantee security, Iran will remain “forever”, Foreign Minister Zarif warned the states in the region.
Iran has announced that it wants to shake hands with its Arab neighbors, although Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that US President Donald Trump would leave office in 70 days, but that the Iranian regime would remain „forever“. Zarif urged them to recognize that „it is never a good endeavor to rely on outsiders to ensure security“.
He called for dialogue and cooperation in Arabic and English. The message was clearly addressed to the Gulf States and others working with the US. Iran offers them a chance, so the message: Change sides and join us or face the consequences – the US will not protect you. This is a type of carrot and stick offered by a mafia godfather as protection.
In a lengthy speech quoted by the Fars news agency, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh urged Iran’s neighbors to return to talks with Iran. (…) He joined Zarif’s warning that those who sought to protect US security would find that „they cannot always pay and lobby and buy security and kill the Yemeni people.“ on Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen since 2015.
„This is a clear message from Iran to them, which this government gave seven years ago and even earlier, and which still applies,“ said Khatibzadeh. „We hope that they will come to the realization that we need a local protection mechanism in the region“, said Khatibzadeh: „Iran is always ready“.
Here, too, Iran threatened the Arab states with a carrot-and-stick approach: If they obey Iranian ideas and work with its regime, then there will be security based on the Iranian model.
Zarif’s “Good Cop” approach makes the “Bad Cop” actions take a back seat. In the past year, Iran used drones and cruise missiles to attack Saudi Arabia. He has mined ships in the Gulf of Oman, used proxy organizations to attack US troops in Iraq, fired rockets at the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, attacked Kurdish dissidents in Koya, threatened tribes allied with the US in Deir al-Zor (Syria) and the Hezbollah urged to threaten Israel from the Golan Heights.
The friends of Iran in Lebanon, the Hezbollah MPs and the Badr Party in Iraq, have all joined the calls by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Iraq to work closely with China. It is therefore perfectly clear what message Iran sends out when it offers peace and security in the region under its umbrella.
The quiet message behind the ostensible plea to be nice to Tehran when Trump leaves office is that those who do not accept her and bow their knees in submission will be exposed to the regime’s wrath.“
Possibly Biden’s first litmus test will be Iran and there is a possibility that the USA will have to expend so much effort in the Greater Middle East that it will be distracted from its actual goal, the Asian Pivot and China. This will be closely watched in China and North Korea. Although China has no interest in a US-Iranian war in the Gulf, as it could also endanger its oil supplies, from which they are slowly becoming more independent, China is likely to be interested in US-Iranian tensions that are diverting the US from Asia . The friends of Iran in Lebanon, the Hezbollah MPs and the Badr Party in Iraq, have all joined the calls by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Iraq to work closely with China. It remains to be seen whether China wants to get involved in this conflict so openly or rather covertly watches the conflict and wait. And North Korea will also closely monitor the reactions of the Biden government with regard to Iran’s nuclear proliferation, missile tests and terrorism. Biden announced with regard to North Korea that its denuclearization is still the goal of the USA. But North Korea already has nuclear weapons and would rather not only be tacitly, but also officially recognized as a nuclear power.