US’ pullout from the Iran Nuclear Deal and mounting tensions between Iran & Israel
The Iran Nuclear Deal — agreed with the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany — was signed in 2015 to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Under the agreement, Iran would limit its nuclear activities in return for eased economic sanctions. In the past few months, many countries, notably Israel and the United States, have been vocal about Iran’s nuclear programme asserting that in all this time the regime has been building a ballistic missile with nuclear capabilities. From the beginning, Middle East powers Saudi Arabia and Israel have been critical of this deal claiming that Iran’s theocratic regime cannot be trusted and hence poses a threat to the regional security of the Middle East. On May 8, American President Donald Trump who, from the start, opposed the pact and had called it the ‘worst deal ever’ unsurprisingly announced the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement while also reimposing sanctions on Iran.
How did the leaders react?
Lawmakers in Iran set the U.S. flag on fire and shouts of ‘death to America’ rang in the parliament. Iran’s defence minister Amir Hatami warned Israel of any confrontation with Iran after the unravelling of the accord. “With attention to the defensive power of our country, we are in a position in which Iran cannot be militarily threatened by any foreign power, ” he said.
Khomenai, Iran’s supreme leader for almost 3 decades now, had comparatively harsher comments for Trump whom he accused of telling repeated lies and engaging in ugly and petty behaviour. Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s President, said in a statement that he had ordered the country’s atomic industry to be ready to restart industrial uranium enrichment.
Meanwhile, Trump’s predecessor Obama described the move as a serious mistake that could possibly leave the US with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East.
Immediate Consequences of the withdrawal
Trump’s announcement was a green light for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to confront Iran in a ruthless manner. Hours after Iran launched a barrage of 20 rockets towards the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, Israel retaliated by carrying out the most extensive strikes against Iranian targets in Syria since 1973.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement, “Iran has crossed a red line and our action was appropriate. Whoever hits us will get hit seven times over. Whoever prepares themselves to attack us will be attacked first. That is what we have done and that is what we will continue doing”.
Another war in the Middle East?
The war in Syria has increased the proximity of the Iranian troops and with Israel long wary of Iran’s growing influence in the region, the Middle East can possibly gear up for another destructive and uncalled-for war. The recent exchange of blows in Syria-faceoff between Iran and Israel just indicates how the conflict can escalate and turn into a full-fledged war. If Iran, as suggested by their leaders, does not refrain from developing its nuclear program, we can anticipate an undesired war to start and spread across Syria and Lebanon causing huge chaos in the region.
Iran has probably lied about its nuclear program, but with Israel also simultaneously increasing its missile ranges, another disastrous and uncalled-for war in the Middle East is imminent. In these gloomy circumstances, it is likely that the sequence of two sides conducting strikes and counter-strikes against each other continues until the parties reach an improbable agreement. For now, the two sides are threatening and accusing each other, bringing in the possibility of a full-scale war, something not many of us want.