Regarding the Iranian nuclear program, the United States has made it perfectly clear that it is committed to the strategy of prevention. In other words, the United States will do whatever it takes — military option included — to prevent Iran from developing nuclear capability for military purposes.
And yet, President Obama’s strategy in dealing with Iran is far from being assuring. It is as if Iranians do not take his words and threats seriously. They know very well that Obama is desperate to leave his own legacy and that he seeks a deal with Iran as the cornerstone of his legacy in the Middle East. His hesitant and ineffective policy in Syria has convinced many Iranians that Obama is also committed to his previous position about not getting his country involved in another war in the Middle East. For this reason, both Russia and Iran along with its proxies felt that they could intervene in Syria and get away with that. It all boils down to their perception of the reluctance of Obama.
Not surprisingly, the Iranian leadership is in defiance. They use the negotiations with the P5 + 1 as a tactic to buy time. But on the other hand, the American administration believes that the sanctions imposed on Iran are having huge impact on the country’s economy.
Put differently, the price tag on Iran’s defiance is so huge that Iranian leaders will not be able to keep up with their program without running the risk of creating all conditions necessary for a domestic upheaval. Therefore, both sides are betting on time!
Obviously, Iran missed the opportunity to reach a deal in November 2014. Much has changed ever since. The Democrats have lost the majority in the Congress and Obama will not be able to convince the Congress to relax — let alone lift — the sanctions imposed on Iran.
Observers believe that the Republican-dominated Congress will seek more sanctions on Iran in the months to come. And for this reason, the Obama administration cannot accept any deal with Iran that does not address the main concerns of the international community.
It seems that Iran is going to negotiate from a much weaker position. Iranians now understand that any deal is better than the continuation of the status quo.
Just a few days ago, Iran and United States agreed on a formula that may reduce Iran’s ability to develop nuclear arms. The tentative understanding entails Iran to ship to Russia much of the material necessary for developing such weapons. But Iran has always denied that it seeks nuclear arms and that it only negotiates with the great powers to assure them that its program is for peaceful purposes. Of course, were it not for the crippling sanctions, Iran would not have started negotiations in the first place.
Comments made by various US diplomats show that there are still issues to be resolved.
The US insists that Iran reduces its centrifuges used to enrich uranium to a level that will deprive Iran of the ability to build a nuclear bomb. Iran is still maneuvering. And it remains to be seen how Iran is going to do in the next meeting with the P5 + 1 scheduled for Jan. 15. The American administration’s desperate quest for a deal with Iran has led many US allies in the Middle East raise their eyebrows. Many suspect that Obama has already turned his back on his allies for the sake of a deal with Iran. If this perception is to take root in this part of the world, then the landscape of alliances in the Middle East will most likely take a different shape.