By Tim Anderson

West Asian endgame when the lying dead is in the morgue

April 16, 2021 - 13:37

It seems fairly clear that Israel was responsible for Natanz sabotage, as (1) the sabotage is consistent with a long line of Israeli attacks; (2) the Israeli media rapidly gloated over it and (3) quoted anonymous sources saying that the Mossad was responsible.

The Israeli media seems to have given exaggerated accounts of the damage, as the few Iranian reports that give any detail say that damage was confined to one of the halls at Natanz, which contained old centrifuges. The Jerusalem Post reported “Western sources … said the attack, which was initially referred to as an “accident” by Iran, was carried out by the Mossad.” At the least the Zionists seem happy for people to believe that they or their agents were behind it.

The apparent motive is to sabotage any lessening of tension between Iran and the new Biden administration. Israeli leaders have made it clear they would like Washington to remain on a war footing towards Iran. This is despite the ongoing failure of US attempts to subjugate Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The Israelis have made repeated attacks on Iranian backed movements in Syria and more recently have been attacking Iran’s shipping on the open sea. To carry out a direct attack on a nuclear facility while talks were afoot in Vienna - supposedly to restart US involvement in the JCPOA nuclear deal - suggests a motive of sabotaging the process, provoking Iran into retaliation and then forcing the US to back the Zionist colony.

Washington and the Israelis certainly collaborate closely on strategic matters, but I am not yet convinced that they were completely together on this latest sabotage attack. I am of the school that does not believe that the Zionist tail wags the imperial dog, and so I see some tensions in the relationship.

The US and Israelis have collaborated in previous attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities, such as the 2010 joint CIA - Mossad cyber-attack which used the computer virus Stuxnet. However, in the current circumstances, Israelis leaders have made it clear they prefer the approach of Trump, who abandoned the JCPOA; while Biden seems to want to rehabilitate the agreement, or at least to de-escalate tensions with Iran.  

Trump ramped up the rhetoric against Iran, but without and real follow through plan. He believe threats and bluster were a good preliminary to bargaining. The Biden regime seems to want a ‘smart power ‘civility’, while sub-contracting subversion and terrorism to proxies and client states.

Yet Biden is hampered by an inability to simply return to the treaty without demonstrating that he continues to exert some sort of leverage over Tehran. That is quite difficult in practice because Tehran has complied with the agreement in a way that Washington has not. For that reason, the Israeli attack on Natanz may not help find a face saving retreat for Biden. 

US analyst and former weapons inspector Scott Ritter says the Israeli attack on Natanz was done "behind the back” of their US allies. He may be right. Despite this, the Biden regime seems unlikely to alter its strategic realignment. There may even be some continuity between the Trump and Biden regimes with respect to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria, as Washington’s image has not been improved by the series of losing wars. 

Trump, both in the West Asian wars and through his bungled management of the COVID19 epidemic at home, drove the ‘leadership’ image of the US amongst its allies to an all-time low. 

That losing reality in West Asia, which the Pentagon understands very well, will not exactly sharpen the US appetite for more open conflict with Iran, which they understand would fail even more comprehensively. Nevertheless, it remains possible that Washington could simply ‘green light’ autonomous Israeli attacks, as providing some fodder for ambit claim negotiations. That could only work if Iran were to make the mistake of re-entering JCPOA negotiations.

Iranian believe that the International Atomic Energy Agency and JCPOA parties should clarify their stances and condemn this sabotage, as it's been done while Iran has been trying to revive the agreement in Vienna. Officials in these multilateral organizations do not generally take such initiatives, as it would threaten their positions. A courageous official would likely be removed by NATO state bullying.

I am of the opinion that the JCPOA is lying dead in the morgue, with no-one yet ready to collect the corpse and give it a proper burial. Iran has no real incentive to offer anything new. The JCPOA never had anything to do with the control of nuclear weapons. It was always an attempt to impose a partisan and asymmetrical regime of surveillance and control over the leader of the West Asian resistance bloc. That plan has failed and what matters now is the endgame.

Taking all these factors into account, the attack on Natanz may have an unexpected outcome. It has already catalyzed Iran’s resolve to upgrade its nuclear processing, increasing the improbability of resurrection of the JCPOA. However, the Biden regime, if it is set on strategic realignment, may effectively abandon that mechanism and look for another way to retreat from the brinkmanship.

 Professor Tim Anderson is an Australian distinguished author, university lecturer, and Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter-Hegemonic Studies. In 2014, he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. His most recent books are The Dirty War on Syria (2016); Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017); and the Axis of Resistance (2019).


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