With the passage of each day, the conflict between Iran and the United States has been increasingly getting more and more intense, requiring attention of the international community. Although the genesis of the Iran-US conflict could be traced back to the 1979-Revolution of Iran, the most recent phase of this conflict was triggered last year when the US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the JCPOA. Since then, the US has reinstated those sanctions on Iran which were earlier lifted and has also imposed some new ones including those targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Iranian Supreme Leader.
The withdrawal from the JCPOA by Donald Trump was in tandem with his expressed dislike for this Agreement since the days of his Presidential campaign. After his election, President Trump has followed a more aggressive policy against Iran with an objective to curtail its regional activities. The essence of this policy is to put maximum pressure on Iran in such a manner that it is compelled to negotiate a new nuclear deal with the United States. Apart from the political and economic sanctions, this US policy has also resulted in the deployment of considerable military build-up in the Gulf region including an Aircraft Carrier, B52-Bombers and an additional 1000 American troops.
Reciprocating these US measures, Iran has also taken such steps which have added to the conflict between the two nations. Most prominent among these include curtailment of some of its commitments under the JCPOA by Iran. This included a stop on the export of uranium stockpile and increasing the level of uranium enrichment. These curbs on the Iranian nuclear activities were mandated by the JCPOA and Iran has argued that it had agreed for such limits in lieu of the economic benefits, which it could not get due to the US’s withdrawal from the Deal. Since such steps would technically amount to Iran’s exit from the Nuclear Deal, the European partners of the Agreement have urged Iran to immediately return to full compliance with the JCPOA so that the Deal could be saved.
A number of other related events have also occurred in the Gulf region in recent weeks which have augmented the current conflict. These include several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the downing of a US Drone by Iran in the Persian Gulf, the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker by the British forces in Gibraltar and Iran’s warnings of retaliation. These incidences, compounded by the apprehension that Iran’s economic strangulation might compel it to attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz, have created serious concerns for the safety and security of the ships sailing through that passage. A third of world’s seaborne oil shipments passes through the Strait of Hormuz and its closure or any serious disturbances in such a key passage is bound to result into a military escalation in the Gulf. Therefore, it is high time world powers made serious attempts to diffuse the tension through diplomatic means.
India is a net energy importer bulk of which comes from the Gulf. This makes the region vital for India and any disturbances in the Strait of Hormuz could substantially reduce India’s import of hydrocarbon, adversely affecting its energy security. Due to the prevailing tensions in the region, Indian Navy has deployed its military ships INS Chennai and Sunayna in the Gulf of Oman to reassure the safety of Indian flagged vessels operating or transiting through the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. India maintains good bilateral relations with the countries of the region and therefore it sees any military conflict in the region as counterproductive to its own interests. It is hoped that the conflicting parties make sincere and serious efforts in peaceful manner towards the diffusion of this crisis, before it destabilises the whole region by spilling into a war and cause immense economic miseries and human casualties.
Script: Dr. Asif Shuja, Strategic Affairs Analyst On Iran