FAES Analysis Group
ith attention focused on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the growing threat posed by Iran seems to have become a routine concern. Indeed, Iran is raising its threat profile, first, through its alliance with Russia and its alignment with the autocratic front that it believes has gained new momentum in the wake of Russian aggression; and second, through its position in the negotiation of the new nuclear deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the European Union, whose chances of success have been described by one of the US negotiators as “tenuous”.
Days before the Russian invasion, it appeared that the signing of a new agreement was imminent. After 24 February, Tehran not only hardened its position by demanding the removal of the Revolutionary Guard from the list of terrorist groups identified by the United States, but, in a move of extraordinary gravity, removed from its nuclear facilities 27 cameras and other monitoring devices maintained by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of its responsibility to verify compliance with the restrictions imposed on Iran in this area.
Developments are particularly worrying. On 30 May, the IAEA certified that Iran possesses enough material to produce a nuclear bomb, that it is stockpiling 18 times the amount of enriched uranium agreed in 2015 and that it is continuing with its process of enriching uranium to a purity of more than 3.67%, the limit agreed in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This means that we are only a few weeks away from Iran passing the point of no return for realising its nuclear ambitions and, consequently, the margin for a truly meaningful negotiation with Tehran that takes note of the mistakes and inadequacies of the 2015 agreement is running out.
In the meantime, Iran is looking to Russia for an ally to circumvent sanctions and is supporting Moscow with arms shipments. According to reports in the British press, Tehran has sent Russia portable RPG rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles, as well as Brazilian-designed rocket launchers and the Iranian Bavar 373 surface-to-air missile system. This situation, coupled with the domestic unrest manifested by the Iranian public outcry despite the regime’s brutal repressive capacity, paints a picture of extreme danger for the region and for global stability.
The aggression against Ukraine should not make Western public opinion, nor the priorities of the major powers, forget the challenge posed by a theocratic Islamist regime, mired in the most brutal repression of its people and ready to take advantage of its options to become a threatening nuclear power. That moment may not be so far away if the positions, determination and pressure capacity of those responsible for ensuring that the ayatollahs do not cross that red line are not strengthened.
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