The Coronavirus imposed a détente in U.S. — Iran relations, as a rising number of cases and deaths kept the saber-rattling to a minimum. However, the end of President Trumps’ presidency is ushering a new era of uncertainty as Iran is poised to increase its enrichment of nuclear-grade Uranium. In 2015, The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Iran. The agreement enabled Iran to access international capital markets and trade with the rest of the world in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
However, the U.S. under Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and the P5 — France, Russia, China, and the U.K. — were unable to enforce sanctions at this time. However, France gave a $17 billion credit line to Iran and the EU triggered the dispute resolution mechanism under the agreement. Since then, the U.S. killed Iraqi General Qassem Soleimani by drone strike and Iran has threatened to retaliate. Washington blames repeated attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq, including near the U.S. embassy. However, Iran’s Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appears to think Israel is precipitating the U.S. towards a war with it.
There are several reasons why a war with Iran is unwise
1). Iran can slowly stockpile nuclear-grade uranium at a faster rate: It is not until recently that Iran showed that it could enrich uranium to weapons-grade in 3 months. The Iran nuclear deal caused the closure of several nuclear facilities, which can be restarted at any time in the absence of a coherent diplomatic agreement that can be enshrined into U.S. law.
Such outcomes will hold signatories to account and prevent any one country from unilaterally withdrawing. One should note that the Obama Administration was curtailed by congressional demands to renew the Iran nuclear deal every three months. Without an agreement, Iran will simply begin enriching uranium that could embolden its activities across the region. This spans logistical and intelligence support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza strip, and the Houthis in Yemen. Absent a framework for negotiations and the gradual re-introduction of Iran into global markets, the multilateral framework could be seen as fraying.