Iran: Expert discusses potential ‘exit route’ after pandemic
Bardia Afshin, journalist and analyst at Iran International TV, believes the Iranian regime is now seeking an “exit route” amid growing tensions arising from Tehran’s decision to accelerate the country’s nuclear programme. Mr Afshin noted that the coronavirus crisis hit Iran particularly hard, coming amid economic sanctions imposed by the United States. He added that Tehran may now decide to pursue dialogue with the West out of desperation as the pandemic leaves the regime vulnerable both internally and externally.
Mr Afshin explained that historically Iran has looked to find a compromise with the international community following periods of economic or political “hardship.”
He told Express.co.uk: “People who are in charge in Tehran, this totalitarian government for the past four decades, they have shown the interests of the public are not their main priority.
“But since the early 80s, they have shown that they might come to an agreement with the international community after hardship.
“So my guess would be that a weakened Tehran can’t be more aggressive in its approach to foreign elements.”
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The analyst continued: “They might even see negotiation as an exit route from the current situation.”
According to the figures from the Coronavirus Resource Centre at Johns Hopkins University, Iran has recorded 1,452,380 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 58,336 are believed to have died.
“Iran has been badly hit by the pandemic, its economy was badly hit,” added Mr Afshin.
“It hit hard the most out of the western Asian countries.”
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Tensions between the US and Iran escalated in 2018 when former US President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of their 2015 nuclear deal and imposed punitive sanctions on Iran.
Under the terms of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA), the Islamic Republic agreed to curb its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
In response to Mr Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement, Tehran gradually began to breach the terms of the accord, before refusing to comply with any of its protocols after the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani in January 2020.
President Biden has vowed to rejoin the treaty if Iran stops violating its terms.
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This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Iran could be weeks away from building a nuclear weapon.
He said: “It is a problem that could get more acute because if Iran continues to lift some of the restraints imposed by the agreement, that could get down to a matter of weeks.”
The Secretary of State added: “Now, the fissile material is one thing. Having a weapon that they can actually detonate and use is another.
He added: “So that’s a real problem, and it’s a problem that could get more acute because if Iran continues to lift some of these restraints imposed by the agreement, that could get down to a matter of weeks.”
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