Efforts to ‘cool down’

Wednesday, 2020-12-02 11:04:37
 Font Size:     |        Print

NDO – The assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh has sparked fears of reignited tensions across the Middle East. Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) António Guterres and many leaders in the region urged restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region, a focus instead being on the need to promote the implementation of commitments in the Iran nuclear agreement, contributing to ensure security and stability in the region.

Iran has stepped up security after top nuclear scientist in the country M. Fakhrizadeh was shot dead near Tehran. The attack against the scientist, considered by the West to be the "architect" of Tehran's secret nuclear weapons programme has caused a strong reaction from Iran. Immediately after the incident, President Israel Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel for the killing. In his letter to the UN Secretary-General, the Iranian Ambassador to the UN said that there are “serious indications of Israeli responsibility” in the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist; affirming that Tehran reserved the right to "take all necessary measures" to defend itself. Iran vowed to respond and punish those behind the killing of a scientist, in a due course.

The incident could "add fuel" to Iran's "fire" after a series of tensions between Iran and the US and Israel during in recent times. Iran has repeatedly accused the West and Israel, in particular the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel’s Intelligence Agency (MOSSAD), of being behind a series of assassinations of Iran's nuclear scientists. While the incident has not been claimed and there is no information about the group of gunmen who caused the attack, many countries in the region have condemned the "acts of terror", but also called for restraint to avoid overwhelming emotions that could intensify tensions in the region. The UN Secretary-General urged restraint and the need to avoid any actions that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the region. The European powers participating in the agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme also urged all parties to refrain, and avoid taking any action which interferes with negotiations on Iran's nuclear programme.

After the US unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which Iran signed with the P5+1, America's European allies, who remain in the agreement, always make every effort to call for the lowering of tensions between Tehran and Washington to prevent the agreement from falling apart. Recently, Iran urged the European powers, including France, Germany and the UK to fulfill their commitments and protect the nuclear interests of the Islamic Republic under the JCPOA. However, Iran's reduction in their implementation of some commitments in the agreement, along with Tehran's uranium enrichment activities, have caused a lot of disagreement between the parties, increasing tensions between the US and Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently said Iran's explanation of the existence of nuclear materials at an unpublished facility in the country was "unreliable", though Iranian authorities have provided some information on the nuclear site. The IAEA's report confirms that Iran's enriched uranium reserves are now 12 times higher than the limits set forth in the JCPOA.

Meanwhile, in order to continue the policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran, US President Donald J. Trump's administration has increased sweeping sanctions on Iran. The US has deployed a number of B-52H Stratofortress planes to the Middle East to reaffirm its commitments to its allies and partners, regional media said. A strategic bomber has been once again sent to the Middle East by the Pentagon, frequently used during times of increasing tension in the region, most recently in early 2020, after the US launched airstrikes in Iraq that resulted in the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The US's dispatching of military means to the Middle East has raised concerns about increasing tensions between the US and Iran, as Western media reported that US President Donald J. Trump had asked for top national security aides to propose options to attack Iran's main nuclear site, ultimately deciding not to go forward.

In the context of the tension associated with Iran's nuclear programme showing no signs of cooling down, any unilateral move could be dangerous. The international community calls for resolving issues through dialogue, avoiding "tit for tat" moves that could set off a "gunpowder barrel", seriously threatening regional and global security.