The power outage at the Iranian nuclear complex in Natanz last weekend has implications for the negotiations on a new nuclear agreement. This has been discussed in Vienna since last week. America wants a new deal with Iran, “but at least this will slow down,” says strategy analyst Damon Golriz.
It has all the appearance of the Israeli Secret Service behind the interference. Not only is Irans finger pointing at Israel. “All media also bring more or less the same story here, based on anonymous sources,” says Israel-correspondent Ties Brock. If Israel is indeed responsible, Prime Minister Netanyahu is directly against American policy. “He says he doesnt believe in a diplomatic approach and drives direct confrontation.”
The timing is certainly striking: in addition to the negotiations, the US Secretary of Defence is now in Israel. “Netanyahu has always been strongly opposed to the nuclear agreement and also to the talks in Vienna. The timing makes it difficult to separate this attack from it.”
What about the Iran deal again? Check it in the timeline:
Iran-expert Ali Vaez also says that “everything points out” that the malfunction was caused by a sabotage action by Israel. “That country has every interest in provoking Iran to withdraw from the negotiations,” says Vaez to Nieuwsuur. “Or to make a mistake, a revenge that makes it harder to reach a deal with Biden.”
Revenge would derail the negotiations and would also lead to more sanctions against Iran and would increase the chances of war, Vaez expects. No revenge may be weak, but Iran will at least wait until a deal is reached, he thinks. “This is a country known for its patience.”
any event, Irans negotiating position has weakened considerably in the short term. “The scope for reaching a compromise is now smaller for the Iranians, because that could now be seen as weak.”
Israel does not participate in the negotiations and has lost an important ally since Donald Trumps departure from the White House. Yet President Biden cannot ignore the Israelis after this attack, says Golriz. “In this sense, Israel has gained a stronger influence at a strategic level.”
More importantly, Iran has a weaker deterrent, and therefore a weaker negotiating position. According to Golriz, according to his own calculations, the country has lost half of the centrifuges to enrich uranium, which is necessary for nuclear weapons. According to American intelligence sources, the Iranian nuclear programme has been reversed by nine months.
“ As a result, the urgency to close a deal quickly has diminished,” says Golriz. There will be elections in Iran in June. “When a hardliner comes to power, negotiations become more difficult, was Washingtons assumption. Now that Iran can no longer enrich uranium at high speed, they are weakened.”
President Trump was aligned with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Iran, but Biden wants much more of an open door. “Israel sees nothing in this, this government does not believe in the negotiations with Iran,” says Brock. This power outage fits in a pattern. “There are confrontations on all kinds of fronts, often under the radar. Certainly as far as the nuclear programme is concerned, Israel says that it is very concerned.”
Trumps disappearance also had consequences for Iran, says Golriz. “I think the talks in Vienna are easier for the Iranians to sell internally now that Biden is in power, precisely because Biden wants to reduce the pressure.”
The malfunction in Natanz would bring the balance of power more back to the old level. “Americas deterrent has diminished under Biden. Until the day before yesterday, Iran stood stronger; now no longer.”
At the same time, the incident has only increased the distance between the US and Israel, according to Vaez. “This makes cooperation between the two countries much more difficult because it was a clear attempt to undermine an American foreign policy priority.”
Possibly, says Vaez, the interference is sending Iran more towards a deal in the longer term. “If the nuclear agreement is so bad for Israel that it takes such action, a deal with the US must be good for Iran.”