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Iranian Nuclear Power: The Raissi Government Faces Three Options

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There is nothing new in the country since the installation of the government of Ebrahim Raissi, who has been at the head of the executive for 77 days. Rampant inflation has exceeded 45%. The point-to-point inflation of foodstuffs has reached 66.7, according to the ISNA news agency.

This situation has existed to some extent in other regions and that is why it can be said with certainty that the new government has not taken any measures to restore confidence. The Iranian people have no clear vision of the future. Capital flight – citing a Central Bank report, the president of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce said that $98.4 billion fled the country between 2011 and 2017 – and elite continues and shows that the middle classes have no hope in the country’s future. And the government still faces a crisis of legitimacy.

Today, it is clear that the Iranian regime is incapable of economic change. Thousands of factories and businesses have been closed by the Revolutionary Guards to import goods from China and elsewhere for profit. The Revolutionary Guards, who take the lion’s share of the Iranian economy, have virtually created an army of unemployed and hungry people. Institutional embezzlement and the gangrene of corruption have devoured and paralyzed the economy. The two uprisings of January 2018 and November 2019, triggered by inflation and poverty, have shaken the foundations of power.

In this explosive situation, it is still unclear what strategy the government has for the negotiations on the nuclear file, the JCPOA. It seems that the conditions for Iran are getting more difficult by the day.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reviews Iran's new nuclear achievements during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran

Despite the explosive situation, no government strategy is emerging for the negotiations.

“Some Western countries continue to use the same illusions of maximum pressure to obtain concessions, especially France, writes the daily Siyasat-e Rouz. In this context, in recent days, the French Foreign Ministry has called on Iran to stop violating the agreement, without mentioning the West’s repeated violations.”

Some circles of power – the IRGC (Revolutionary Guard Corps) and Saadullah Zarei, director of the Quds Force Intellectual Center (an offshore unit of the IRGC) – believe that the changes in the northwestern border with Azerbaijan, as well as the Taliban takeover, provide an opportunity to exert more pressure on Tehran.

According to an analyst close to the Iranian regime, the convergence of views between Europe and the United States in the nuclear talks has never been stronger. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly to perhaps persuade him to put pressure on Iran. They will probably want to bring the issue to the Security Council.

Another Iranian analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that today the country “faces a foreign enemy and serious domestic threats. If the army of the hungry and unemployed gets going, its intensity will be much more violent than in 2019. “People are in a fog,” says an engineer working in Tehran. The situation in the country is like a building whose foundation is crumbling.”

Confusion seems to have gripped the Iranian government, but in any case, there are three options for negotiations:

Convinced of the absence of a firm European response, such as the adoption of a resolution by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors, the Iranian regime wants to force Europe to accept a return to the 2015 agreement through “deterrence diplomacy.” A deal that allowed the Iranian regime to both sell oil and recover blocked money, and gave free rein to its regional meddling and the development of a long-range missile program.

The second option could be to buy time to obtain the enriched uranium needed to make an atomic bomb in order to extract concessions from the Europeans. However, the information obtained shows that given the sabotage at the Natanz facilities and the elimination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the father of Iran’s nuclear program, it will not be possible to acquire an atomic bomb for a long time. To buy time, Europe must be blackmailed.

And the third option that is becoming increasingly likely is that, according to a former strategic research official under Khatami’s presidency, the economic collapse and resulting crushing pressures, as well as fears of a new uprising, will lead Khamenei to conclude that there is no other way but to accept the demands of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany.

Just like the capitulation to UN resolution 598 during the Iran-Iraq war, or the release of American hostages by Khomeini under international pressure…

Contributed by –

Hamid Enayat

Writer and expert on Iran based in Paris. For thirty years, he has been writing regularly on Iranian issues.

*The views expressed are personal.

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