Getting to ‘yes’ on a new Iran deal

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

The Americans are saying, we don't care. We're much larger than you are. You have now taken steps Iran, to enrich uranium beyond the levels that they had committed to in the deal. They've stockpiled that enriched uranium, they've kicked inspectors out, so they have to show that they are actually back in the confines of the deal. And once they do that, which will take a few months, then you can in lock step bring the American sanctions off. And the Iranians are not prepared to say that they'll accept that, they will get there. And so, if this were just about the United States and Iran finding a way to get back to yes, especially because the people that are actually in the room, the negotiators working level from Iran and the United States include many of the same people that actually put together this deal to begin with, back in 2015, 2016, under the Obama administration. That makes it a lot easier.

Everybody wants to get to yes. But not everybody outside the room wants to get to yes. And we've seen, in quite spectacular fashion over the last several days, a major cyberattack. Looks like it destroyed the independent power source for Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz. One of the most important assessments are that this is taking their nuclear capabilities to develop enrich uranium off some nine months potentially, which makes it a lot harder for the Iranians to push the Americans and say, here's what we're going to do with our program if you don't come back to the deals. So, it undermines their leverage. But it also makes the hardliners in Iran say, why do we want to do this deal at all? Because we've got a big fight with the West. Here we are trying to be somewhat more accountable and they're going to hit us no matter what. The attack from Israeli sources, Iranian sources and American sources, the attack came from Israel.

Why would Israel engage in strikes to undermine the effort by its principal ally, the United States, to get back into the deal? Well, to answer that question we need to go back to 2013, 2015, and ask why then prime minister Bibi Netanyahu, in charge, just as he is right now, sort of, get to that in a second, was willing to do everything he could to individually lobby lawmakers in the United States, and even make a trip to have a speech in front of Congress, to undermine the coming nuclear deal. While Obama, the president of the United States was doing everything possible to get that deal done. So, the fact that the United States and Israel are allies does not mean that they see eye to eye on this. The fact that America is vastly more powerful than Israel and is an enormous supporter of Israel intelligence and defense, does not mean that the Israelis will align with the United States on an issue that is seen to be vastly more important to their own national security, that of a potential Iranian nuclear program, and the enrichment of the Iranian government.

And so, back in 2013, 15, Netanyahu was doing everything possible to see if they could screw up the deal on the American side. They know they can't do that now, because the Biden administration and Congress is completely supportive on the democratic side of getting this deal done. So, what they're trying to do is see if they can undermine the Iranian position. Get the Iranians so angry that they escalate and blow up the prospects of getting this deal done. We've seen some of that with some Israeli strikes against Iranian militias in Syria. We've seen some of that with Israel engaged in what looks to be mining of Iranian ships most recently in The Red Sea. And now, certainly not a coincidence, this massive cyberattack against an Iranian nuclear facility. Clearly the Biden administration is going to be very upset about this. I am sure there is no love lost between Jake Sullivan, Antony Blinken and their counterparts in Israel right now.

But having said that, it's not going to kill the deal. The Iranian government isn't going to take the bait. If they engage in strikes, they will take their time and they will be targeted against Israeli targets, they will not hit the United States. It was very interesting that the foreign minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, was focused on the Little Satan, as they referred to Israel, as opposed to Great Satan, the United States. They're differentiating Satan's which is certainly an important message from Iran. So, I think this is significant. I think it's worth watching. But I also think that by the end of the year, there will be an agreement for the Americans and Iranians to get back into the deal. Keep in mind that the window for the number of years this deal applies is pretty narrow now. I mean, before the Iranians would be able to restart their production, and again the sanctions would snap back, I suspect at the very least, they're going to want to extend the number of years for which the deal applies by five, for example, that seems smart.

They won't be able to get further agreements on things like ballistic missiles and Iran's support for organizations across the region that the US considers to be terrorists. What that also means is that the United States is not going to remove all of the sanctions against Iran. This deal is important in so far as it allows Iran to produce an export, another million barrels of oil a day, that brings the price down. It's important in so far as it prevents verifiably, the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons capabilities, at least for as long as the deal is in place.

But beyond that, it does very little. It doesn't stop them from developing ballistic missiles. Doesn't stop them from engaging in attacks against the United States and its allies in the region. It doesn't end American sanctions against Iran. It doesn't open the Iranian economy for business with American financial organizations or those of other countries that want to do business with those American firms. So, that's where we are right now. It's fascinating geopolitical stuff. We are still very much on track for a deal that does matter, but not everybody is happy about it, and it's going to be pretty controversial. So, that's a little bit from me. Hope everyone is safe and avoid fewer people. We are getting there. Talk to you soon.

Advancing global money movement for everyone, everywhere;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?

Even with innovations in fintech and digital payments, roadblocks related to basic infrastructure like electricity and internet connectivity still prevent many migrant workers from being able to transfer money to their families back home with a truly digital end-to-end flow. While more workers can send money digitally today, the majority of people still receive funds in cash. Read more about why public-private partnerships are key to advancing the future of global money movement and why it matters from experts at the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute.

The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

More Show less

Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.

The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

More Show less

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

More Show less

How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

More Show less

35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal