Will the assassination of Qassem Soleimani threaten the Iran nuclear deal?

3 January 2020, 15:34

Will the assassination of Qassem Soleimani threaten the Iran nuclear deal? Conflict expert Dr Lydia Wilson explains how likely this is.

The Iran nuclear deal was an agreement which offered billions of dollars in sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for their agreement to soften their nuclear programme and make it "exclusively peaceful".

One significant feature of the deal was that Iran had to give up 97% of its enriched uranium, a chemical which can be used for nuclear fuel.

Tom asked conflict expert Dr Lydia Wilson whether this deal may now be affected following Qassem Soleimani's death.

"Everything's up for grabs at the moment," she said, "it's going to be very very interesting to see how Iran chooses to respond to this. There's many options available to them as I said, they're not looking for full-scale confrontation with America. It's absolutely not something they could win.

President Donald Trump holding a memorandum on Iran nuclear deal in 2018
President Donald Trump holding a memorandum on Iran nuclear deal in 2018. Picture: PA

"But they need to save face somehow. So they're going to do something whether it's against US military, diplomatic or commercial interests in Iraq, or in the region against allies. They'll be some retaliation, I'm sure."

She said that a lot of Iranians "see the right to nuclear power as a very sacred value" and many Iranian polls have found people questioning why the rest of the world should have access to it and they can't.

"It's a matter now of national pride," Dr Wilson said.

Tom posited that Iran may try to find leverage with China and Russia "who are presumably going to come down on the side of the Iranians.

"Suleimani himself of course was exceptionally close to Russia," she said, "So I'm sure we'll see more movement in that direction, absolutely."

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