Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Iran…We’re Almost There!

As the West confirms reports on Iran approaching the level of enrichment needed to build a “nuclear bomb,” the clash over the Iranian nuclear issue has become imminent. Things could play out in one of three ways, all of which are dangerous.

Reuters quoted diplomats as saying that the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found uranium enriched to 84 percent in Iran, which is very close to bomb-grade.
A diplomat confirmed the accuracy of this to AFP, adding that the IAEA is now allowing Iran to clarify the issue because it seems that enrichment levels could peak. His statements affirm the report by Bloomberg last Sunday.

Accordingly, Iran enriching uranium of 84 percent purity means that one of three outcomes awaits us. The first is approaching a conflict that will change the region. We cannot ascertain how it would develop and end, especially given Israel’s unwavering determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. The second is Iran developing the capacity to make nuclear weapons. This would also change the region, sparking a nuclear arms race and emboldening Iran to wreak even more havoc on the region.

The third potential outcome is that Tehran is doing this now to push the negotiations with the US and the West along. Just recently, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the ball is in Iran’s court and that the onus is on it to break the impasse. Blinken also accused Tehran of supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine, stressing that his country, alongside Israel, is committed to ensuring that Tehran does not obtain a “nuclear weapon.” He also noted that there is nothing new and that President Biden has been “very clear that all options are on the table.”

Of course, Iran’s primary objective is obtaining nuclear weapons. Indeed, it believes such arms would enable it to impose its agenda in the region and make the world more acquiescence to its perverse project and see it as inevitable.

Now, it seems that Iran is increasing the purity of its uranium because the mullah regime is convinced that possessing nuclear weapons would afford the regime protection as protests continue to rage at home nearly five months after they began. All three outcomes would lead to a clash. The most significant actor, at this point, is neither the US nor China, or Russia, nor is it the countries of the region. Rather, the position to watch is that of the Israeli hard-liners, how will they react to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons or the current agreement being concluded.

The fact of the matter is that Tehran pushed things this far. It took a naive approach to the nuclear deal, especially given the flexibility in negotiations that Washington has shown Tehran since President Biden was elected.

To conclude, all three outcomes would leave us “on the brink” with no easy options. The complications of reaching a deal have become more acute since the Europeans adopted a more stringent position after Iran implicated itself in the war in Ukraine. Another aggravating fact is the constant Israeli attacks on the mullahs’ troops in Iran and Syria, where a meeting of IRGC leaders was recently targeted. Beyond any doubt, it is now Tehran that is paying the price after having made costly miscalculations.