Game Of Chicken That Can End In Disaster: On U.S-Iran Relations

By Moderator July 13, 2019 13:03


Mohammed Ayoob, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of International Relations, Michigan State University, expressed his views on U.S.-Iran Relations.

Important Analysis

  • On July 7, Iran announced that it would begin enriching uranium above a concentration of 3.67% permitted under the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached by Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on July 14, 2015.
  • The downward spiral in U.S.-Iran Relations started with US decision (announced on May 2018) to withdraw from the JCPOA against the advice of the U.S.’s European allies France, Germany, and the U.K. that are parties to the deal.
  • The Trump administration followed it up with the re-imposition of stringent economic sanctions against Iran that were being gradually dismantled following the 2015 nuclear deal.
    • These included sanctions against foreign companies doing business with Iran and against countries buying Iranian oil.
  • S. announced in April this year that it would not extend waivers granted earlier to eight countries (China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy, and Greece) which had been the largest importers of Iranian oil.
    • This decision was aimed at totally choking off the export of Iranian oil — the primary foreign exchange earner for Tehran

Key demands of US

  • US wants curbs on Iran’s nuclear program including total stoppage of uranium enrichment even at low levels permitted by the JCPOA and monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
  • It demanded that Iran stop all support to Hezbollah and Hamas which the U.S. considers to be “terrorist” groups, permit the disarming of Shia militias in Iraq, and stop aiding Houthis in Yemen fighting Saudi and Emirati forces in that country.
  • It demanded that Iran end building of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.

Iran Response

  • All these demands went far beyond the limits placed on Iran by the JCPOA and most were unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program.
  • Iran’s government rejected these demands while still keeping the door open for negotiations, hoping against hope to draw the U.S. back into the nuclear deal.
  • unilateral withdrawal from JCOPA gives no economic relief to the Iranian people, the primary selling point in favor of the JCPOA.
  • On July 1, Iran had an announcement that it had breached the limit of the 300 kg of enriched uranium stockpile that was allowed by the JCPOA. It appears Iran’s patience is wearing out.
    • These steps come in the wake of increasing tensions between the U.S. and Iran following the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz in June.


  • The mayhem could have spread to the entire West Asian region with Iran attacking strategic American, Saudi and Emirati targets around the Gulf and attempting to block the Strait of Hormuz in an effort to choke off the supply of Gulf oil to the international market.
    • Further, Iranian allies in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria might have launched attacks against American troop concentrations as well as against U.S. ally Israel, thus inviting further American and Israeli counter-retaliation and dragging the U.S. into its third major war in the region.
  • Oil supplies from the Persian Gulf are likely to be greatly reduced if not totally eliminated sending oil prices sky-rocketing, especially threatening the vulnerable economies of the global South.


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By Moderator July 13, 2019 13:03