Context: How the Iran Nuclear deal has shaped till now.
How, the Iran nuclear deal was approached differently under different US presidents?
- Approach Under Obama Administration:
- The Obama Administration Washington saw Iran’s nuclear programme, which was at an advanced stage in 2015, as a national security problem and tackled it via diplomacy.
- Obama by agreeing to the nuclear deal lifted the sanctions on Iran and allowed Iran to move towards claiming its natural economic and political might.
Why were the Israel and Saudi’s upset over lifting Sanctions?
- Iran’s regional rivals, mainly Israel and Saudi Arabia, who are also America’s allies, saw the Iran problem differently.
- For them, Iran’s nuclear programme was not the problem but was part of the larger geopolitical challenges Iran posed.
- The problem was Iran influence across West Asia, its backing for non-state militias, and its ambition to emerge as a dominant pillar in the region based on the political heft of the Shia community.
- Hence, lifting sanctions on Iran under Obama administration has upset them.
- Approach Under Trump Administration
- The Donald Trump administration took an entirely different line towards Iran.
- It pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear deal, despite United Nations certification that Iran was compliant with its terms, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
How it helped Iran rivals?
- Trump’s approach towards Iran had aligned with that of Israel and Saudi Arabia.
- The Trump years gave Israel a window of opportunity to step up its covert and overt operations.
- In 2018, Israeli spies carried out a daring mission at a warehouse inside Iran and stole thousands of documents related to Iran’s nuclear programme.
- Iranian nuclear scientists came under attacks. In Syria, where Iran has deployed militias backing the government of Bashar al-Assad, Israel continued to bomb Iranian targets
- Expected policy approach under Biden administration
- President-elect Joe Biden has promised to take the U.S. back to the nuclear deal.
- Biden, who was the Vice President of the Obama administration that originally signed the deal, could zero in on the nuclear programme, like Mr. Obama did, and leave the regional issues to the regional players to settle.
What are the motives of Israel at present?
- Recently, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear physicist, was assassinated. Israel has been blamed for the attack, an allegation that Tel Aviv has not denied.
- Israel wants to set back Iran’s nuclear programme by taking out a prominent scientist and spoil the possible revival of the nuclear deal.
- Israel wants to escalate the conflict, giving the outgoing Trump administration and the Israel government reasons to launch heavier strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, closing off the diplomatic path.
How Iran responded?
- Iran have opted for the less risky option. Instead of walking into the trap of provocation, its Parliament passed a Bill that obliges the government to enrich uranium to a higher level, from less than 5% now to 20%, which is a technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%
- Also, it resorted to stop access for UN inspectors to the country’s top nuclear facilities in two months if sanctions relief is not given.