Chariots of Fire: The Faltering Iran Nuclear Deal



    Since President Biden took office, a policy objective of the administration has been to restore the nuclear deal with Iran that his predecessor withdrew from. However, efforts have not been successful, and as a result, the situation is looking grimmer over the next three months. Israel views Iranian nuclear capabilities as a direct threat to their existence. As a result, Israel has been outspoken about taking action should nuclear talks with Iran not conclude in an agreement that severely limits Iran’s capabilities.

    Key Judgement 1: It is unlikely that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will be reinstituted within the next 6 months.

    • The Iranian government is demanding two guarantees from the US in order to re-comply with the JCPOA. First, the US remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from America’s list of terrorist organizations. Additionally, the US can never walk away from the deal in the future. The US is unwilling to make the first concession and unable to make the second. (Source)

    • The White House has stated that if Iran continues its advancements in nuclear technology, then it will make it “impossible for us to return to the JCPOA.” (Source)

    Key Judgement 2: It is likely that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon within the next 6 months.

    • Iran claims that the aims of its nuclear program are peaceful. However, since the US-backed out of the nuclear deal, Iran has increased its output of enriched uranium. (Source)

    • Uranium is weapons-grade when it reaches 90% enrichment. To date, Iran has only been able to reach 60% enrichment. However, Iran is fully capable of producing nuclear weapons with the enriched uranium it has. (Source)

    • Iran has been shutting down monitoring cameras in response to IAEA discovering possible nuclear activity at three undisclosed sites. Subsequently, Director-General Rafael Grossi stated, “Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency’s findings.” (Source, Source)

    IDF soldiers in chemical suits.
    IDF soldiers from the “Owl” Battalion, specialized in chemical warfare. (Source)

    Key Judgement 3: It is likely that Israel will make a preemptive strike against Iran in the next 6 months if the nuclear talks fall through.

    • Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett has been very vocal about acting against Iran should the deal fall through. Stating that it is “acting and will continue to reserve the freedom to take such action against the Iranian nuclear program as may be necessary, at any time, with or without an agreement.” (Source)

    • At the end of May Israel held the largest military exercise in its history known as “Chariots of Fire”. The exercise included almost every unit in the IDF, simulated bombing runs on Iranian nuclear sites, and deployed a submarine thought to have nuclear capabilities to the Red Sea. (Source, Source, Source)

    • Israel is bolstering peace/security agreements with nations it was once considered enemies. Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and more have all been in talks with Israel about their shared enemy. (Source, Source)

    • Israel has a history of utilizing covert actions against Iran. It is believed that Mossad is behind the poisoning of an Iranian scientist involved in weapons development as well as numerous other Iranian officials. In the mid-2000s Israel and the US developed a cyber weapon known as “Stuxnet”. The weapon successfully targeted Iran’s nuclear program. In addition, since 2019, Israel has been using covert methods to destroy Iranian vessels carrying oil and weapons to Syria. (Source, Source, Source)

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date: 19th of June 2022

    Jordan Smith
    Jordan Smith
    Jordan is currently working on his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He is majoring in International Politics with a concentration in Security Studies and a minor in Russian language.

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