The U.S. Has Won Its Latest Battle with Iran. But the War Isn’t Over

January 14, 2020 | Efraim Inbar
About the author: Efraim Inbar is president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS).

With the death of Qassem Suleimani, commander of the expeditionary wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Efraim Inbar considers what will come next:

Tehran realizes that the disappearance of Suleimani from the stage is a great loss and setback. He was a creative officer who understood the usefulness of proxies and a good organizer able to build a motley of proxy militias ready to fight for promoting Iranian interests. His charismatic leadership instilled motivation and esprit de corps. It will not be easy to replace quickly his skills, experience, and honed instincts.

But Iran’s most significant response [is its] declaration that it is lifting all limitations on uranium enrichment. . . . If Washington maintains economic pressure on Iran and makes additional demonstrations of limited use of force, Iran may change course and come to the negotiating table. This is what President Trump wants.

Renewed U.S.-Iran nuclear talks would be very problematic, because the Iranians are skilled and experienced at using negotiations to shield their nuclear program. Their patient negotiating skills are much better than those of the Europeans and the Americans, as evidenced by the nuclear agreement of 2015. The bitter truth is that the Iranian regime will not give up its quest for the bomb, which is its ultimate insurance policy. Only the physical destruction of Iranian nuclear installations will prevent an Iranian bomb.

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