The recent attacks on Iranian facilities show the rising Western anxiety around the nuclear program of Tehran. In the work, the possible three scenarios are highlighted when Biden’s Nuclear deal with Iran fails.
Since his election to the government, Joe Biden has been reclaiming to renew the Nuclear deal with Iran. However, three years have passed, and the topic remains open. Meanwhile, Israel attacked an Iranian facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan. The operation coincided with the events such as the afterward of the visit of US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, and CIA Chief, William Burns’s unannounced visit to the Palestinian Territories and Israel and prior to the visit of Washington’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.
It is not apparent whether the Iranian deal was discussed or not, but the history of the attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya exemplifies how the Western coalition could intervene in a sovereign unit of the international community. This may result in a much deeper crisis of relations between Iran and the Western coalition along with its regional proponents.
First of all, it is a cyberwar. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Nuclear deal with Iran in 2018. Proponents of the deal said that it would help prevent a revival of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and thereby reduce the prospects for conflict between Iran and its regional rivals, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. According to the agreement named Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and the Islamic Republic of Iran were intended to anticipate that full implementation of this JCPOA would positively contribute to regional and international peace and security. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances would Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.
Despite Biden’s actions to restore the deal with Tehran, a video published on social media shows US President Joe Biden saying the Nuclear deal with Iran is «dead». As a result, Iran’s main responsibility deal to the international community has remained annulled and the possibility of the emergence of nuclear Iran has increased. Thereby, the danger rate for Israel and Saudi Arabia will heighten and official Tel Aviv may reiterate Stuxnet-style operations designed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence to disable a key part of the Iranian nuclear program. Such a scenario brings cyberwar between Iran and Israel with an escalating counteroffensive by official Tehran.
In recent years both Israel and to some extent Iran have been discarding the shroud of secrecy over their attacks on the high-level strategic assets of their opponent – and not only in the cyber sphere but also in other areas of confrontation. While Israel aims to establish military superiority and with it deterrence, its actions could easily prompt the regime in Tehran to step up a gear by retaliating in different areas of confrontation, with Israel being forced to retaliate in turn. Cyberwarfare, despite vast territories between the countries, could undermine infrastructure reliability and provoke social outrage. Once, according to a report, Iran managed to sabotage the water system in Israel, disrupting it for several hours, and even tried to poison the water, but Israel responded to the attack.
On the other hand, cyber-damages remain temporary and inconstant, do not completely devastate a project, and can be fixed instantly. With such an approach, sides acquire extra-time for further operations. Moreover, this manner of combat averts international attraction and physical losses. Therefore, the probability of the contradiction in cyberspace is high though, the need for escalation persists and it will not be the end of the conflict.
The second scenario is to be established Cordon sanitaire between the Iranian «proxy empire» and Israel, the American main partner in the region. On January 5, 2020, in an extraordinary parliamentary session, parliament called on the government to end all foreign troop presence in Iraq and to cancel its request for assistance from the US-led coalition which had been working with Baghdad to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In the aftermath of the failure of the tripartite alliance – which included the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Masoud Barzani, the Sadr Movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Sunni Sovereignty led by Khamis al-Khanjar and Mohammed al-Halbousi – to form a majoritarian national government, Barzani and Halbousi joined a new coalition, called the «Running the State Coalition», with the Iran-backed Shia Coordination Framework following Sadr’s withdrawal from politics to form a new government.
Besides Iraq, throughout the war in Syria, Iran has emerged as a dominant foreign influence in the most bloody and catastrophic conflict the region has known. Tehran is applying its financial, military, and economic resources to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Half of a decade into the Syrian war, Iran has established a major foothold in the country, becoming an undeniable feature of any likely post-war landscape. For example, during February and early March 2022, the militias of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) located in Syria’s al-Hasakah Governorate brought in several shipments of weapons and military equipment to strengthen their military and security presence in the governorate, which is considered the richest in Syria in terms of oil and agricultural wealth.
In meantime, the Iranian presence in Lebanon and Palestine stretches its «proxy empire» from Afghanistan to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. On that condition, the establishment of independent Palestine statehood in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia appears as an alternative option to avoid direct conflict between Tehran and Tel Aviv through the paradigm of Cordon sanitarie.
In addition, Robert Kaplan, in his book named «Revenge geography» writes that Israel will have to recognize the independence of Palestine as long as the demographic surge in the Gaza sector and occupied territories overrates Jews in the region . World Bank data shows that the fertility rate of the West Bank and Gaza is 3.6 while it is 2.9 in Israel. This tendency, earlier or later, is likely to retaliate the case that occurred in the South Africa Republic in the 1980-1990s.
Subsequently, state-building in Palestine raises confidence in relations with most of the Arab countries.
Thirdly, the risks of direct involvement of the West are increasing. At first, the above-mentioned nuclear program of Iran irritates not only its regional rivals but also the United States and its other international partners. In July of 2022, President Joe Biden during a new interview with Israel’s Channel 12 said that the US would be willing to take military action against Iran as a «last resort» to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. A nearly similar decision was accepted by official Washington on intervention in Iraq based upon George W. Bush’s lie about weapons of mass destruction.
Even though there are no ballistic missiles that can reach the US or major Western European countries, Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East, with thousands of ballistic and cruise missiles, some capable of striking as far as Israel and southeast Europe. For the past decade, Iran has invested significantly to improve these weapons’ precision and lethality. Such developments have made Iran’s missile forces a potent tool for Iranian power projection and a credible threat to the U.S.
What’s more, the United States Institute of Peace reveals information about the follow-mentioned three transfers of missiles to the proxies:
Secondly, the energy crisis after the Ukraine crisis enforce most European countries to find alternatives for industrial and social consumption. The project of Green Energy requires a long time, however perspective it seems. The option of Venezuela appears implausible. In June, several months after a March visit by a U.S. delegation to Venezuela, Washington allowed Italy’s Eni and Spain’s Repsol to resume shipments of Venezuelan oil to Europe. In November, Chevron was granted a license to operate in Venezuela again. Nevertheless, José Toro Hardy, a prominent Venezuelan economist told Forbes that it would take about $250 billion of investment and seven to eight years to bring Venezuela’s production back to its former levels.
Third, government change or instability in Iran neutralizes military technologies such as Shahed drones in Ukraine. All of these cases make the direct military involvement of the West in Iran more possible than ever. According to US intelligence officials, the United States believed that Iran delivered the Mohajer-6 and Shahid drones to Russia in August of 2022 contrary to what Iran says that it gave the drones to Moscow before the conflict with Ukraine began on February 24.
Finally, the US manage to collect a substantial number of troops near the border of Iran. It is not clear what the exact number of US troops in the Middle East is, but according to Pentagon data, America has about 54,000 troops in more than a dozen of Middle Eastern countries and is maintaining military bases in seven of them. Meantime, the division of powers governing Iran is more apparent than ever before. The clergy system has been weakened over the courses of protests while the military corps has justified its role. On the one hand, this trend seems identical to responding to international pressure, however, on the other hand, national courage stays under the threat of disintegration. For example, the problem of Southern Azerbaijan has returned to the scene once the moral unity degraded. The presidential office of Tehran, the third scheme with considerable authority, has been more and more limited with civilian affairs. Such alienation of structures (clergy, military, civilian) makes the country more reluctant and less unresponsive to international invasion.
With the failure of Biden’s diplomacy, the likelihood of one or more of these scenarios triggers as long as Washington disfavors nuclear Iran. The rise of Persian potential may block the Mackinder’s «heartland» from southern borders against Mahan’s «anaconda» as Moscow-Beijing-Tehran possess positive trilateral relations. The sample of North Korea presents that the US is to be cautious when it comes to direct involvement. Therefore, the White House urges to decide on the Iranian nuclear program, and is possible to make an attempt before its realization.
In addition, the election of the Republican majority to the House of Representatives is likely to influence redirecting the US foreign policy to Asia. Recent events of last decades during Republicans’ rule (Afghanistan and Iraq invasion under the Bush administration, trade war with China, and assassination of Soleimani under the Trump administration) demonstrate the fact that the party is predominantly Asia-oriented. For instance, the removal of Ilhan Omar, a Muslim Somalian migrant, and representative of Minnesota, from the powerful foreign affairs committee under the accusation of anti-Semitic speech shows the mandate of Israel in the party. Thus, Iran appears to find itself in the center of cyber-political, energy-political, and geopolitical center of international tensions.
 Kaplan, Robert D. The revenge of geography: what the map tells us about coming conflicts and the battle against fate. New York. Random House, Inc. 2012. Pp. 180-181.
Key words: Nuclear Weapon; NPT; Iran