Welcome to the third in our series of interviews in which we look at the Middle East region and try to understand better what is going on there. The view from the West is that it is a very violent and dangerous place. There is an ongoing war in Yemen and there are several other countries that appear to be on the brink of war. There are some dreadful abuses of human rights and there are failed states. But on the other hand this region is the cradle of Western civilization: Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Arabia are places of myth and legend. Great mystics, mathematicians, translators and storytellers have come from there. Major religions have their most sacred places here. Western art music science and food have all felt the impact of this region.

In this series of interviews which we’re calling The Roots of Violence, we’re going to try to understand how the violence originated and who is responsible. We aren’t attempting to justify the physical violence, but physical violence doesn’t erupt from nowhere. Physical violence is the explosion that erupts after a long period of economic and psychological violence.

In our third interview we speak with Emad Kiyaei. Emad is Iranian. He’s a director of the Middle East Treaty Organization, which is a civil society campaign seeking to eradicate all weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East through innovative policy advocacy and educational programs. He is the co-author of the book Weapons of Mass Destruction: a New Approach to Non-proliferation, and he studied at Princeton and Columbia universities in the United States.

The entire series of interviews can be found on our YouTube channel here.

Transcript under the video:

Pressenza

Welcome to part three of our interview series, the Roots of Violence. This week, we are once again back with Emad Kiyaei, Director of the Middle East Treaty Organisation, looking for the roots of violence in the Middle East region.

The first two parts of our series took us to Iran, in 1952 when US and British secret services organised the overthrow of the Iranian government, in order to install their puppet king, who was himself overthrown in 1979. US-Iran relations have been affected ever since then, yet during the 90s, Iraq became the primary concern for the USA and eventually after the 9/11 attacks, which had nothing to do with Iraq or Iran, the USA went to war against Afghanistan, and then turned its attention back to Saddam Hussein, which led to his death and a change of government.

Ironically, both the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to governments which are much more favourable to Iran than their predecessors. The US has effectively built up its regional influence instead of undermining it.

Emad, welcome back to the Roots of Violence, let’s kick off with a question which picks up from where we were last time in 2001. The USA started the terrifying War on Terror that took out the governments in Iraq and Afghanistan as I said. President Bush included Iran in an alleged ‘axis of evil’, including North Korea, and noises started to be heard about an Iranian nuclear programme.

So, to start off with, can you tell us about the Iranian nuclear programme. Why did it start, what was the thinking behind it, how far it developed, and, what was the reaction of the rest of the world?

Emad Kiyaei

Thank you Tony, for having me back, And so we are starting off, in early 2003. let’s remember, that at this point as you have mentioned there’s a war going on, with the US’ involvement in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And the reason why President Bush managed to bring the US into Iraq was primarily on a big lie, but then it was used as an excuse to enter into war with Saddam Hussein, and that was over its ‘weapons of mass distraction’.

So, here we see the issue of non-proliferation, and WMDs coming to the fore. And when the United States, even against the UN Security Council’s decisions to enter into that war in Iraq, it led to using the issue of WMDs on another case, in this one, it was Iran. And in early 2003, we hear that there is some concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme again. And at this point, Iran has managed to do something quite remarkable. It has managed to enrich uranium. Now, the enrichment of uranium, allowed Iran to enter into a club of nations, where they have the technology and the know-how to take uranium ore as a naturally occurring element, and be able to then enrich it for energy purposes, for other industries, and by extension, possibly a military dimension to this form of enrichment, at much higher levels.

But, they managed to start and break the seal of being able to enrich uranium. This caused a lot of alarm, on the global international and it brought Iran’s nuclear programme, once again, under the spotlight. At that point, Iran, again under its rights, as a member of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and as a signatory to that treaty, and the IAEA, which is the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations, Iran was allowed to enrich, but it caused an issue, that possibly this could become a proliferation risk. And the United States and other countries elevated the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, and it reached a boiling point, where in the nuclear watchdog of the UN made Iran’s file, and brought it onto their governing board. And they decided Iran was in violation of its agreements with the international nuclear watchdog. And this is what is known as, I will not go into detail with it, but it was about a possibly military dimension to its nuclear programme. That basically means that there are some technologies that Iran is pursuing, that can be used both for civilian purposes but also diverted, possibly, to a militarised covert programme. And at that point, it was again, Iran, had to prove to the international community that it did not want, nor seek nuclear weapons. And it started negotiations in 2003, with what is known as the EU3: 3 European powers, the UK, France and Germany. And those negotiations, actually surprisingly, which we will touch on what happens later on Iran’s nuclear programme, but by 2005, the European powers and Iran had reached a deal that limited Iran’s nuclear programme to a handful of centrifuges, put Iran’s nuclear installations and facilities into one or two sites, and everything under supervision and monitoring. But guess what. They took that to Washington, the Europeans, and President Bush, still high on its war in Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein, and eager to take its military might in the region, and extend the war beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, and finish off Iran, was against this diplomatic rapprochement and agreement between the Europeans and Iran. And that agreement, in 2005, known as the Paris Agreement, failed.

Pressenza

So, give us a little bit more, more context for Iran’s nuclear programme, because back in 2003 in the region uh Iran wasn’t the only country with a nuclear programme. Who else is experimenting with nuclear energy, nuclear power, and how does this relate to the international treaties- the NPT, and the relationship with the International Atomic Energy Agency?

Because there’s something there, which is that Iran is being made out as an exception to what else is going on in the region.

Emad Kiyaei

I think the best way to, let’s quickly have an overview. In the Middle East, all the countries in the Middle East, which are 22 Arab countries plus Iran and Israel. These are 24 countries we’re worried about, when it comes to a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East. So let’s geographically bring it to that area. Amongst these 24 countries, all of them, with the exception of Israel, are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that is one of the most important treaties that has been negotiated on a global scale, that limits the proliferation and spread of nuclear weapons in a grand bargain, that provides governments and countries with the peaceful use of nuclear technology, as long as they promise not to build nuclear weapons. And the country that originally had the nuclear weapons, promised to disarm and get rid of theirs. Now, that was a long time ago, it was 1970, when this treaty came into existence, and was signed on by all these countries. But, in the Middle East, Israel didn’t sign it. And Israel continued to have a covert nuclear weapons programme that was masterminded and supported by Western countries, and the United States turned a blind eye towards them. Why? Again this goes to the notion of ‘who is my friend and who’s my ally? and who is my enemy?’

So, in the case of the Israeli nuclear weapons programme, we know now through the Freedom of Information Act, and whistle-blowers, and scientists, and satellite imagery of the advanced nuclear weapons programme, that Israel’s got, that everybody knows is the worst kept open secret, and the French assisted in the construction of a plutonium reprocessing plant for the Israeli government to be able to manufacture a plutonium track to a nuclear weapon. Because, just quickly, there’s two really quick ways to build nuclear weapons. One, is enriching uranium at high levels, and one is plutonium, which is the waste by-product of when nuclear fuel burns in a power plant. So, when you have that waste, in that waste there’s plutonium. And when you extract the plutonium, when you take it out of the waste, it’s already weapons grade. You’re ready. So the Israelis have taken that route to build their nuclear weapons whereas in the case of Iran’s nuclear programme, even though it doesn’t have nuclear weapons, it has pursued an advancement in enrichment. These are the two different ways. Now, when it comes to Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, because there are no inspectors, there is no internationally binding treaty that the Israeli government has to abide by. There is no way to control what is happening on Israeli soil. We do not have cameras, we do not have inspectors, we do not know what is going on in the nuclear facilities such as Dimona in the Negev desert.

What we do know, through again, these other means of getting the information, is that Israel possesses somewhere, between 80 and 140 nuclear warheads, that have been advanced through a plutonium track, and are ready and armed. And because Israel has sophisticated, advanced conventional weapons and weapons systems, it is able to have both nuclear warheads on fighter planes, in submarines, and in ballistic missiles. So this is the only case in the Middle East. When it comes to Iran, the reason why Iran’s nuclear programme is always elevated and you keep hearing it in the news, is because on the point of the nuclear file, Iran has been under enormous international pressure and it is on this specific issue of the nuclear file, that it allowed world powers to inflict their own coercive policies and actions on the state of Iran. And Iran has to prove that it’s not guilty, that its nuclear program is peaceful and, it’s again rooted in the animosity and misunderstanding and mistrust in the relationship between Iran and the sole superpower on the planet, which is the United States. And the difference between Israel’s nuclear programme and Iran’s nuclear programme is primarily based on the fact that Israel is an ally of the US and the Western powers. Number two, they have allowed to progress towards weaponisation without any retaliation, any type of sanctions, any form of inspections and any form of pressure to stop. And number three, it is important to note that Israel, because of its historical links to Europe and the European and American special relationship with Israel, we see that it has allowed the country, Israel, to continue having this policy of opacity, which means that they do not confirm nor deny having nuclear weapons, even though everybody knows they have it. And they’ve gone beyond that, what is known as the Begin Doctrine, and have bombed other nuclear or advanced programs in the region, such as the Osirak reactor in Iraq and also another reactor in Syria. So, what the Israeli government has done, has not only built up nuclear warheads and a nuclear energy sector outside international inspections and monitoring, it has gone out of its way to destroy, through sabotage, assassinations and bombing, of other countries’ nuclear facilities—and the Iran latest accusations against Israel and the alleged attacks by Israeli agents of Iran’s facilities, known as the Natanz nuclear facility of Iran, where again it was sabotaged for a number of times now, for the past few years—and so we see a quite a shadow war, happening in the region in terms of what is happening on this front. That is being played out on both a conventional level and also unfortunately dealing with weapons of mass destruction or the possibility of building.

Pressenza

So, back in 2005, you explained that the Europeans managed to do a deal with Iran, which would put restrictions, limitations on how far they would develop their nuclear programme. And yet, the Iran Nuclear Deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA, didn’t get signed until I think it was 2016, 2015

Emad Kiyaei

  1. A decade later.

Pressenza

What went on in those 10 years, why couldn’t there be an agreement signed earlier?

Emad Kiyaei

Ok, I’m going to run through this really fast. Please stop me if I get too far. 2005 Paris Agreement, goes to Washington. President Bush said we already got Saddam down, we got the Taliban out, the Ayatollahs are next. So there was no agreement from the Americans for the Europeans to come back to the Iranians and say we have a deal.

So that deal crumbled, and with it, the reformist President Khatami, who had put a lot of political capital, in ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programs, as an issue, will be taken to the side. And unfortunately because of that failure, we have elections in Iran and instead of another reformist moderate government coming into power, we have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being elected as the President of Iran on the rallying cry and slogans that he would bring dignity to the Iranians, and would tear this type of pressure that the international community is inflicting on Iran. And why should Iran even allow these inspections, and allow these types of concessions when it doesn’t have nuclear weapons.

So Khatami the reformist is out, and the failure to reach a nuclear agreement with the global community, specifically the Europeans, became a political suicide for the reformists, and gave cannon fodder and much more power to the conservatives within Iran, such as Ahmadinejad, and we have a new president in Iran, and for the next eight years, oof, it’s a different type of politics in Iran.

Pressenza

But, hang on. Because you’ve made an allegation, which is really quite serious. You’ve said that the United States would prefer to have an all-out war against Iran, a regime changing war against the rulers in Tehran, rather than negotiate, and have a deal with another country treating them like peers. Is that really, what we’re saying?

Emad Kiyaei

What I’m saying is, no, no, no, let me clarify. What I’m saying is that when the 2005 nuclear agreement between European powers and Iran was agreed, that piece of paper had to be signed off by Washington. Again, why? Because the United States has an enormous amount of influence over its European partners too. So the Europeans went to Washington, and said ‘listen, we have agreed with the Iranians, they will limit their nuclear facilities, their nuclear activities, we will have inspections, monitoring, and if you look at that piece of agreement, that was taken to Washington, you will see that it had a lot of similarities later on, with the interim deal that was signed that eventually became more comprehensive and known as the JCPOA.

But at that point, President Bush and those around him, the Dick Cheney’s, those who were pro-hawkish, war mongers in Washington, had seen the collapse of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. And conveniently hundreds of thousands of US military personnel and equipment were surrounding Iran. And if you look back at the rhetoric and the actions of the United States during the Bush Presidency, you will see that they had Iran under crosshairs. They were targeting Iran somehow, maybe they wouldn’t openly say regime change but look at their actions, look at their policies, and it’s showcased that there’s a possibility that there will be another war in the Middle East, and that one would have been Iran. And so here there’s a lot of changes that occur, because it’s sort of like the Presidency in Washington believed that diplomacy was, that it was not time for diplomacy. That we have, ‘look, Saddam is done, we did it outside of the UN, we have carte blanche after 9/11 to do what we want. So why not? There’s a possibility we can go into Iran’.

So there was no appetite in Washington for diplomacy. It didn’t work, when the United Nations Security Council, overwhelmingly was against the US going into Iraq, and they created their own coalition of the willing, that they co-opted the British under Tony Blair, to also drink the Kool-Aid and go into Iraq and cause a devastating war that cost thousands of lives on the back of a big lie, that we know today. So, putting it in context in 2005, this is before this instability of Iraq and Afghanistan reaches a point where the US is struggling to even keep it intact. But those fast, furious initial waves of invasion that collapsed the regimes, gave those in Washington, which were pro-war and hawkish, ammunition and precedence, that it is possible to make swift victories at the countries that we consider enemies. So Iran was definitely a target. I wouldn’t say that it was implemented because it hasn’t been, but it definitely was considered.

Pressenza

So, what happened then, with the JC- with international politics, which took that regime change war off the agenda?

Emad Kiyaei

So, I think a few things happened. So, the Europeans were very eager to make a new diplomatic agreement because they were worried that the Americans would use the issue of WMDs and Iran’s nuclear file to enter into another war. Number two, when there was an agreement and the US said no, you also had a quick change in government in Iran because it was near the elections. And with Ahmadinejad in power, it caused a completely different reality that has occurred on a national level within Iran.

Iranian politics changed to become more aggressive. It was like Bush being aggressive and Iranian presidents were like ‘Ok, fine. You want a war, we want a war too. Come for it and let’s put up the ante. The pressures were reaching boiling points. And Iranian Ahmadinejad’s presidency was characterised by populist slogans, by Iran moving away from international cooperation and expanding its nuclear programme. And then here something else, also, occurred on a regional level. Both Afghanistan and Iraq were, because of the animosity between Iran and the US that initially there was a level of cooperation that assisted the US as we talked about in a previous discussion in bringing an end to the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, because of the form of language and politics of Washington and again in Iran under Ahmadinejad, the tables turned. Iran said ‘ok, we can’t do this through a constructive dialogue and diplomacy, so we are going to make it extremely difficult for the United States to maintain its foothold and presence in Iraq and in Afghanistan.’ And there was an enormous amount of Iranian support to militia groups, and to others within Iraq and Afghanistan, to then create the conditions in which the United States found itself extremely troubled. What do I mean? Indirectly supporting groups that would target American military installations and personnel that would create a lot of havoc within the inside of the country for the Americans to have any stability. And American’s own policy post-Saddam Hussein collapse also accelerated this, because the United States also did not know very well how to operate in these two theatres of war, Afghanistan and Iraq, by disbanding thousands, and tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and military personnel that were then absorbed by different factions, that created turmoil on the par of civil war within Iraq. And here, the United States got entangled and stuck, in Afghanistan and Iraq, to such an extent that any adventurous, expansionist ideas of an invasion or an attack on Iran subsided very quickly. This became an unpopular war in the United States and the United States government found itself in an extremely negative position when these body bags were coming back to the United States.

So the war started to cost a lot, in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Iranian Ahmadinejad presidency brings up the ante, and brings the temperature up, and there is disagreement within the international arena. And at this point, the United Nations Security Council, and other world powers, having seen Washington not agree to this European initiative with the Iranians, realise that they really need to band together or the US is just going to think that it’s in the Wild, Wild West, and it’s just going to do as it wishes. So there was a concerted united effort on the global scene, to reign in this unchecked power of the United States. And here is when Iran’s nuclear file, and how it is addressed between 2005, the presidency of Ahmadinejad, until 2013 when he is out of his presidency, and the election and presidency of Obama create a new era of international politics. With Obama coming into the reigns in Washington, we are finished with the years of the Bush warmongers and hawks in Washington, there was a replacement—at least on paper—of someone who advocated for international cooperation, multilateralism and diplomacy. So, Iran’s nuclear programme goes through these three phases. One is before Ahmadinejad, this agreement with the Europeans that was shot down by the Americans. Between 2005 to 2013 we have Ahmadinejad in power expanding Iran’s nuclear program making it extremely difficult to cooperate with international community, you will have the US entangled in these wars, it has to then re-emerge itself on the international arena, and forget about what it has done through the Bush era, with the election of President Obama. And here from 2009 to 2013, is a new page, where the US is again seen as cooperating within the UN and multilateralism. And this coincides again, with Iran expanding its nuclear programme and the United Nations Security Council unleashing its most comprehensive sanctions then, on Iran through the efforts of the Obama administration and Secretary of State then, Hilary Clinton, in creating a global unity, in terms of inflicting these sanctions on Iran.

If they were able to create, truly, one of the most comprehensive coalitions of the willing then, under the back of inflicting sanctions and other policies, short of a war with Iran. So, here we have a change of tune in Washington, a change of tune in Tehran, and so these worlds are colliding.

Pressenza

So then, did the US, the Obama administration’s policy of sanctions, did that do anything positive? Was that, did that help or encourage Iran to come to the negotiating table? What was it that brought Iran back to the negotiating table, ready to negotiate? There’s a changing in leadership obviously, but still, you know, there’s a lot of hardliners in Iran. What was happening in Iran?

Emad Kiyaei

Tony, sanctions on a global level, on a regional level, on a national level, inflict harm on the people, and not their governments. It inflicts pain; economic pain, social pain, and its dwarfs efforts of any progress, on socio-economic political fronts. And unfortunately, those years of comprehensive sanctions that continue today have only held back the Iranian people, and unfortunately have rallied the population around the flag and have strengthened the central government and its own, sort of prism, through which it sees the world, and that is one, that is fighting against global powers that do not want it to survive. So unfortunately what we are seeing is that those years of sanctions did not help diplomacy. Actually, it not only hurt the Iranian public, it expanded Iran’s nuclear programme. In 2005, Iran had a hundred and odd centrifuges spinning. By 2013, when negotiations started again with the United Nations Security Council, Iran had over 20,000 centrifuges spinning. And this is the reason why you cannot force a government, a country such as Iran, with sanctions, and forcing it, twisting its arm for it to come to the negotiating table. So instead of actually, Iran contracting its nuclear programme, it expanded. Instead of Iran becoming more socially open, it closed in. In terms of Iran becoming even more progressive, you know, it became even more conservative. And so it had all the reversal, all the aims of sanctions that were not achieved, but something changed in Washington. What happened in Washington?

President Obama selected a new Secretary of State, and this Secretary of State came into power, replaced Hilary Clinton, and we have a new team in Washington, and there’s an election in Iran, where Ahmadinejad is out, and President Rouhani, who is the outgoing president now, comes into power with his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

Pressenza

Who is the Foreign Minister in the States?

Emad Kiyaei

John Kerry. Now the stars aligned. 2013, Ahmadinejad is out, the sanctions are in. Iran’s nuclear programme has expanded. We have a new team in Tehran that is eager to re-engage with the international community. And guess what? Their team, that I’m talking about, Rouhani, Zarif, and others who made up this new administration, were the same ones who negotiated the 2005 agreement with the Europeans. So they knew exactly, on the nuclear front, what needs to be done. On the other side in Washington, we have Hilary Clinton being replaced by John Kerry and John Kerry’s understanding of what needs to be done makes a switch in Obama’s policy towards Iran, where Obama until that point, had maintained the Bush era mantra of zero enrichment in Iran. And Iran said, “You cannot tell us not to have enrichment. It’s not right.” And here John Kerry and his team with Obama reached a compromise where they changed simple language from zero enrichment, to limited enrichment.

This slight change of language and the new team in Washington and Tehran opened the door for the Iranians to enter into negotiations at the United Nations Security Council in New York in 2013, and start, in earnest, a diplomatic, multilateral approach to resolving this issue, after a decade. After a decade, of back and forth sanctions, assassinations, sabotage, and close encounters that could have erupted in an all-out war. Finally, there was political will from key capitals, to invest in diplomacy, and here is the key. Without political will, without investing the time, the resources, and what is necessary- the compromise, the negotiations- these types of mechanisms will not work. And here, within two short years, when you look at the whole thing, two years seems short. Within two years, Iran and world powers, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia, China, the UK, France, United States plus Germany and the European Union, agreed in 2015 to a nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Pressenza

So what was the JCPOA, what did Iran agree to with the JCPOA? Why is it good, and why would Trump come along and withdraw from it?

Emad Kiyaei

Alright, let’s try to keep this quite simple. 5 things Iran did, and in return got 2 things. Ok. Imagine a basket of compromise. Agreement. Iran agreed to limit its enrichment level to Low Enriched Uranium. So, 3.5 or 5%. So this allows Iran to have enrichment, but at a low level, that does not then go towards weaponisation. So Iran limited its level of enrichment. Number two, it limited the number of its centrifuges. Because remember, Iran had 20,000 at that point, and Iran agreed to bring it down to 5,000. So it spins much less numbers of centrifuges. Number 3, Iran agreed not to install sophisticated new generations of centrifuges, to spin faster and can enrich faster. So Iran limited its expansion of more sophisticated centrifuges. Number four, Iran, when it came to its research and development, was limited to a small number of where it has, allowances or bandwidth to do its research, and it would all be within one facility.

And number five, Iran agreed to convert its heavy water reactor, which posed a threat in proliferation in the future, through a reprocessing that could result in plutonium. We talked about it a little bit earlier, that there’s a plutonium track to nuclear weapons. So Iran agreed to convert that heavy water reactor to a light water reactor, which would then avoid the need for reprocessing, and by eventuality, allow for no need, for a possibility of a plutonium track to a nuclear warhead.

These are the 5 things, and just to let you know, it also, that by extension, it also includes the fact that Iran had stockpiles, of these enriched uranium, and those were like, really high levels. Beyond 20, is called Highly Enriched Uranium. Iran agreed to limit it, and also dilute it, so it became a Low Enriched Uranium, and others were exported out of the country. So just to let you know, that all of these things were the practical things that Iran had to do- limit what it does. In addition to that, Iran also agreed to the most intrusive inspections that the IAEA could do in the country, Iran agreed to an enormous amount of monitoring, and new technologies were developed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme, from its mining to bringing it to these facilities, 24/7 is under the watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency. So Iran made all of these concessions that went beyond what it had under the agreement of the NPT. It didn’t have to do this. So Iran is the only country in the world, as we speak, that has allowed this level of concessions on its nuclear programme and this level of inspections, and this level of monitoring. There is no other country.

Pressenza

So why then, didn’t Donald Trump like this very much?

Emad Kiyaei

I’m going to get to that in two seconds. Because Iran agreed to this, not for free. Iran agreed to do this for one specific major change. For the United Nations Security Council sanctions to be removed. And the European Union sanctions to be removed and the United States sanctions on Iran’s nuclear programme, or related to Iran’s nuclear programme to be removed, and for Iran’s nuclear file to be normalised. And Iran could open up its market, and its people, and its country, and become again, a fully-fledged member of the international community, and operate like a normal country.

Alright, so that was a deal. 2015, they made this agreement, and until 2018 when President Trump pulled out of the deal, the agreement was working. The inspectors were there, the monitoring system was working, the IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear programme showed that Iran is doing exactly what it has promised to do, and we can verify it. Then President Trump comes in, he gets elected and in his own slogans, and election campaigning, he said ‘this was a bad deal, this was a terrible deal’, that the United States made concessions to Iran, and ‘If I become President, I’m going to tear it up’. And unfortunately, when he became President, he did.

Now why? Was it because the nuclear deal with Iran stopped Iran from building nuclear weapons? Did the deal allow for that aim to be achieved? Yes. Iran, we know, was not building a nuclear weapon, so why then, if there’s concern over Iran’s nuclear programme, Trump tore up and got out of the Iran nuclear deal? That answer lies in its support to his administration from the likes of the military industrial complex in Washington, the lobbying groups there, and those who represent countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, who saw the Iranian nuclear deal, again, as a direct threat, to their regional and global relationships, and the dynamics that are happening in the region. Primarily with what they thought, that if the nuclear deal progresses further, it will normalise Iran and the US relationship, and here it will it will be at the cost of their regional influence, and what they see as their key backer of security, the United States, in being the protector of their interest in the region.

So here, the dynamics change. President Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, primarily for the fact that number 1, it had made a promise, a slogan promise and he thought that he could have a better deal. So, he wanted to dismantle everything that Obama had done, may it be the Paris Climate Agreement, to other agreements Obama had done, he just wanted to dismantle it. Number 2, he had received a lot of pressure from the Netanyahu government in Israel and others such as Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, that this deal does not serve the national interests of the United States, nor its allies in the region because it gives Iran a free ride, in terms of its hegemonic power and aims in the region, and so then finally, it was primarily driven by the fact that there is this level of animosity and there is this level of mistrust between the United States and Iran, that unfortunately, when it is left to outsiders to navigate and manoeuvre the US, in how it applies its policies in the Middle East, unfortunately it is lost. Because there’s no direct relations between these two capitals, Tehran and Washington, so unfortunately the Iranian Nuclear Deal became a casualty in this presidency of Trump.

Pressenza

Very good, I think we’re going to leave it there. We’ve covered a lot of ground today, thank you Emad. It’s really interesting to see how all the pieces of this puzzle are fitting together and bringing us up to the situation where we’re in today, where the powers are in Vienna as we speak, talking about how to rescue the Iran nuclear deal and how to bring the United States back into compliance with it, and Iran back to fulfilling all of the commitments that it agreed to. I think next time we’ll pick it up from there, and we’ll see what else is going on in the region, and maybe we’ll talk a little bit more about Israel.

Very good, so thank you everyone, thank you for joining us and listening again to this really interesting series and we’ll pick it up next time.