Alex Phillips: We need to talk about Iran

'Wanting to U-turn on the strident decision of Trump to tear up the previous deal, talks have been resurrected in the hope that Tehran will play ball'

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And as the UK joins the US today in an effort to restart talks aimed at preventing Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, we really need to talk about Iran.

Are we at risk of sleepwalking into complacency by getting around the table with Iran again?

Was Trump right to walk away from the nuclear deal, or did it have the adverse effect of supercharging Tehran to proliferate nuclear capability at an accelerated rate to become a threshold state, able to unleash horrors against its enemies, forcing Israel to quake in its boots at the threat of existential obliteration?

The original deal was designed to straitjacket the rogue state, and while hardly regarded as a perfect solution, it was hoped it could buy time and space for the West to rebuild a more positive relationship with Iran.

But are we being taken for a ride? Wanting to U-turn on the strident decision of Trump to tear up the previous deal, talks have been resurrected in the hope that Tehran will play ball.

As the main players meet in Vienna today with marked American absence, everyone around the table has their own agenda to bring.

Russia and China, keen to snuggle up to new allies in the Middle East since America’s shock retraction from the region, want to reopen dialogues for commercial bilateral reasons as Iran commits to a strategy of looking East.

Europeans meanwhile are largely hopeful a belligerent Iran can be pacified, to stave off the threat of direct military action as the only remaining option if Iran continues to move towards creating a nuclear bomb.

Many insiders believe an emboldened Tehran has managed to enrich enough uranium to now be a shocking month away from building a bomb.

Jerusalem, who has for years conducted clandestine operations, assassinating leading scientists and attempting to sabotage Iranian nuclear developments through cyber warfare, have said they would resort to military action at repeated threats from Tehran that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

Then you have Iran’s other neighbours, such as Saudi Arabia, also saying it would start tooling up with WMD if Iran develops an apocalyptic arsenal, leading observers to fear a middle eastern arms race. Pretty horrifying stuff.

Yet Iran’s economy has been ravaged by the sanctions and desperately needs global commerce to help alleviate hard times at home.

So can there be a middle way? Or are we on the brink of disaster. It’s time to talk about Iran.