Iran’s representative to the United Nations, Robert Malley, recently said that although “it is” in Iran’s hands to select which course to pursue, the United States and its allies must be prepared for any path Tehran chooses.
He pointed out that President Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken “have said that if diplomacy fails, we have other” measures at our disposal – and that “we will use other means to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon.”
Nonetheless, there has been a struggle within the White House over the past few days to determine whether some sort of interim agreement could be reached: it is possible to freeze Iran’s production of more enriched uranium as well as its conversion of die fuel into metal form, which is a necessary step in the production of a nuclear warhead. In exchange, the United States would be relieved of a limited number of restrictions, which would include those relating to humanitarian assistance. That would not be a solution to the issue. However, it may be possible to buy time for discussions while deterring Israel from bombing Iranian infrastructure.
Purchase time, and it’s probable that a significant amount of it may become necessary. In addition to the 1,500 new sanctions imposed by Mr. Trump, a number of Mr. Biden’s advisers are sceptical that imposing additional economic and military sanctions on Iran’s leadership, military, and oil trade will be any more effective than previous efforts to persuade the country to change course.
Furthermore, more aggressive actions that were effective years before may not deliver the benefits that they expect now, depending on the situation. There is widespread agreement among officials at both the National Security Agency and the United States Cyber Command that it is much more difficult to launch the kind of cyber attack that the United States and Israel carried out more than a decade ago, when a secret operation with the code name “Olympic Games” rendered centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear enrichment site inoperable for more than a year.
The Iranians have now upgraded their defences and developed their own cyber capabilities, which officials from the United States and Israel have said have been more active inside the United States since the administration issued its warning last week.
The Iranians have also continued to deny inspectors access to key sites, despite a series of agreements with Rafael M. Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, to store data from the agency’s sensors at: key locations, as well as a series of agreements with the Iranian government. The cameras and sensors used by the inspectors die… they were damaged in the factory explosion in late spring and have not been rebuilt yet.