By Mohammad Mazhari

Requesting more concessions from Iran is deal-breaker: Entessar

April 16, 2021 - 13:33

TEHRAN - Nader Entessar, a professor emeritus of political science from the University of South Alabama, says an insistence on extracting concessions from Tehran in a way to weaken Iran’s deterrent capabilities would put Iran in harm’s way.

  "Requesting more concessions from Iran, especially concessions that will lead to the weakening of Iran's deterrent capabilities against obscenely-armed regional opponents, is a recipe for disaster and invites aggression against Iran's national interests and territorial integrity" Entessar tells the Tehran Times.

While the remaining parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have started talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, a sabotage attack took place on Iran’s key nuclear site on Sunday morning.

Israel is considered the chief suspect for the sabotage.

Sabotage operations against Iran's peaceful nuclear program raises questions about Western negotiators' intentions who support Israel on the one hand and call for Iran to limit its deterrent capabilities on the other.  

"Sabotaging Iran's infrastructural assets and facilities, including the country's nuclear plants and economic assets, will be part of Israel's long-term strategy to confront Iran," Entessar says. 

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: What's your comment on Israel's sabotage operation against Iran's nuclear facilities?

A: It is increasingly apparent that Israel will pursue a multidimensional strategy to sabotage any meaningful rapprochement between Tehran and Washington.  Sabotaging Iran's infrastructural assets and facilities, including the country's nuclear plants and economic assets, will be part of Israel's long-term strategy to confront Iran.  So far, Iran has not been able to devise a deterrent or retaliatory strategy against Israel.  Absent such a strategy, Israel will most likely expand its war of attrition against Iran.

Q: Are you optimistic about the recent talks to revitalize the Iran nuclear deal?

A: I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the prospects of recent talks in Vienna.  However, there are significant obstacles on Washington's path to return to the Iran nuclear deal, or the JCPOA, as it existed before the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from it.  The JCPOA has been comatose for some time, and it may be very difficult to bring this patient back from its current vegetative state to a semi-normal existence.     

Q: Why is Biden refusing to take the first step to revive the nuclear agreement? What are the main challenges that he faces?

A: There are several important reasons for the Biden administration's reluctance to take the first step and return to the JCPOA.  First, Joe Biden wants to ascertain that Washington's return to the nuclear deal will lead to further concessions from Iran on several fronts, including in areas that limit Iran's defense capabilities and impinge upon Iran's national security interests.   Neither President Biden nor his top foreign policy planners support the Iran nuclear deal as it was originally agreed upon between Iran and the so-called 5+1 countries.  Secondly, there exists significant opposition to the nuclear deal and normal relations with Iran in Congress, and the opposition to the deal is not limited to the Republicans either.  For example, one can name Senator Chuck Schumer (the Senate Majority Leader) and Senator Robert Menendez (the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) as powerful Democratic senators who are among the staunch opponents of the Iran nuclear deal.  

 Even Senator Chris Muphy, who has been among the most vociferous critics of Trump's Iran policy, supports the U.S. return to the nuclear deal as a first step to expand the scope of the JCPOA to non-nuclear issues. 

 Thirdly, the Biden administration appears to be divided on what steps the U.S. should take towards Iran.  

Fourthly, pro-war Iran hawks still exert considerable influence on the contours of Washington's Iran strategy.  For them, the ultimate goal of U.S. strategy should be "regime change" in Tehran and the restoration of a compliant regime in Iran. 

 Last but not least, foreign lobbies representing the interests of Iran's regional adversaries in Washington have become more effective in recent years, and they frame their interests in the context of perpetuating and exacerbating tensions between Tehran and Washington.
 
Q: Do you predict Iran to leave the negotiation table if Israel continues its sabotage acts? 

A: I think as long as Iran sees the light at the end of the tunnel, it will continue negotiating with the 4+1 countries and indirectly with the United States.  At present, effective diplomacy remains Iran's best strategy.

Q: Do you think putting new conditions, such as Iran's missile program, on the table will be helpful?

A: No, that would be a deal-breaker.  Requesting more concessions from Iran, especially concessions that will lead to the weakening of Iran's deterrent capabilities against obscenely-armed regional opponents, is a recipe for disaster and invites aggression against Iran's national interests and territorial integrity.
 

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