The Iran Challenge for Joe Biden

There is no sign the US is planning an attack on Iran, although Trump has said he would respond to any attack by Iran or its affiliated militias in Iraq that resulted in the death of an American.

By   |  Published: 6th Jan 2021  6:55 pm

US President –elect Joe Biden has an Iran problem. And, it’s getting more complicated by the day. Thanks to provocative moves by Iran and and equally provocative actions by the outgoing Trump administration, the President-elect is facing an increasingly uncertain situation when it comes to Iran.Here’s a look at the latest developments in the region

In the past week alone, President Donald Trump’s team has dispatched B-52 bombers to the Persian Gulf in response to alleged Iranian attack planning and reversed an order to bring home the USS Nimitz, the only US aircraft carrier in the region.On Monday, Iran not only announced it had resumed advanced uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal but also seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker and its crew.

Will this lead to escalation of tension

Concerns have run high for some weeks about Iran stoking tensions, particularly around the Jan. 3 one-year anniversary of the US killing of a top Iranian general in Iraq. US officials have been on heightened alert for possible retaliation from Iran.

Possibility of military action

Part of the worry is that a single wrong move — or intentional provocation — has the potential to trigger war. There is no sign the US is planning an attack on Iran, although Trump has said he would respond to any attack by Iran or its affiliated militias in Iraq that resulted in the death of an American. The US military has long had a wide variety of weapons and troops in the Middle East that could be called on if hostilities broke out. But Trump himself has derided the idea of getting further mired in Middle East wars.

US carrier to stay in Gulf

The United States has reversed a decision to bring an aircraft carrier home from the Gulf, with the Pentagon saying that due to “recent threats” by Iran, the USS Nimitz would stay in position.

The Nimitz has been patrolling Gulf waters since late November. In a statement on December 31, acting US Defense Secretary Christopher C Miller ordered the vessel to “transit directly home to complete a nearly 10-month deployment”.However, Miller issued a new statement changing course on two days later.

B-52 bombers in Gulf

Joe Biden

These long-range bomber flights aren’t commonplace, but they’ve become a bit more routine in recent weeks as a show of military might. There have been three B-52 bomber missions to the region in less than two months, most recently on December 30.The roundtrip flights from the United States are meant to show how quickly bombers can get to the area.

What does this mean to Biden?

Biden’s transition team has declined to comment in detail about the latest developments and what they may mean for their plans. But, Biden and his top national security aides have laid out their approach to Iran in broad strokes. Top of that list is bringing Iran back into compliance with the nuclear deal and then expanding that pact to take into account non-nuclear behavior that wasnt covered by the initial agreement.

Iran, however, has said it will only return to compliance if the US rejoins the deal and rescinds sanctions that Trump reimposed.