War fears rise as Trump dumps nuclear deal

Divided: Former US president Barack Obama condemned Trump’s decision as a “serious mistake”.

Is the world more dangerous now? Tensions flared across the Middle East as Trump pulled out of Iran’s “rotten” nuclear pact. Now, some say war is looming. Here are five things that may happen.

1/ Iran launches an assault on Israel

Iranian troops are now in Syria fighting for the Assad regime. Syria’s neighbour, Israel, views Iran as a threat, and has already killed Iranian forces with airstrikes. Without the deal, Iran may be emboldened to launch retaliatory attacks of their own ― which could spark an open war.

2/ Saudi Arabia bombs Iran

Iran and Saudi Arabia are currently fighting a proxy war in Yemen, but have avoided direct conflict. However, shortly after Trump’s announcement, Iran-aligned forces in Yemen fired a salvo of ballistic missiles at the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Saudi Arabia may respond with direct attacks on Iran.

3/ Iran develops nukes — America goes to war

The deal prevented Iran from enriching nuclear material to weapons-grade levels. Without it, it would be free to build nuclear missiles — which would give the US a clear pretext for military action.

4/ Worldwide nuclear arms race sparked

If Iran pursues nuclear weapons, it won’t be the only country the US will have to worry about. Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia would all want their own atomic arsenals too.

5/ Trump’s gamble pays off

“They are going to want to make a new and lasting deal,” Trump said before withdrawing from the pact. He predicts that economic sanctions will force Iran back to the negotiating table.

Is the world a more dangerous place now?

Deal-breaker

Of course, some argue. The move inflames multiple conflicts around the Middle East, puts Iran back on a dangerous path to nuclear weapons and alienates the US from key European allies.

Not necessarily, others respond. Even if it wanted to, Iran is a long way off building nuclear weapons. And it will take serious escalations to push Israel or Saudi Arabia into open war.

You Decide

  1. Should all the world’s nuclear weapons be destroyed?

Activities

  1. Write down all the terms that first come to your mind when you hear the word “Iran”. Discuss your word choices as a class. How do they reflect how Iran is viewed in the West? Is this perspective fair? Why/why not?

Some People Say...

“Nuclear weapons offer us nothing but a balance of terror, and a balance of terror is still terror.”

George Wald

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The nuclear deal is not totally dead, but is still in place with the other signatories: Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.
What do we not know?
Trump claimed that the US will impose the “highest level” of economic sanctions against Iran. Details of these sanctions are unclear. However, they could damage European businesses that have operated in Iran since the deal was struck.

Word Watch

Airstrikes
Just hours after Trump made his announcement, Israel launched airstrikes against Iranian forces in Syria, killing at least nine fighters.
Proxy war
Yemen is split between the two main branches of Islam: Sunni and Shia. Saudi Arabia has launched airstrikes in support of Sunni fighters, while Iran arms and supports the Houthis, a predominantly Shia militia.
Negotiating table
Trump would want a new deal to include much more comprehensive restrictions on Iran’s military and nuclear activities.

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