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US-Iran deadlock

Aug 04,2019 - Last updated at Aug 04,2019

Tensions between Iran and the US are still on the rise after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif said on Wednesday that his government will take yet another step to reduce its compliance with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Western countries.

Zarif himself was also sanctioned by President Donald Trump when he was added to the list of high-ranking Iranian officials who have been penalised by President Trump in the wake of the escalation of tensions in the Strait of Hormuz last month.

The pressing issue now is where the two sides go from here. Allowing the standoff between Tehran and the US and other Western nations to continue unabated with no clear signs that it could be at least contained is now the critical policy issue for all sides.

Germany is sending signals that it would not like conditions to deteriorate, and has been calling for deescalating tensions. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already rebuffed President Trump's call for a joint Western military response to Iranian military threats across the Strait of Hormuz and beyond by policing the waterway by a joint Western armada.

French President Emmanuel Macron, while critical of Iran, also signalled that talks are better than military confrontations to settle the growing standoff between Tehran and a number of Western countries. President Macron wants to give diplomacy a chance and he could be right.

President Trump, on the other hand, seems to prefer upping the ante with Iran until it yields to his pressures. There must be a way out of this standoff between Iran and the Western nations.

In retrospect, the escalation of tensions is traced to the punitive economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran by the US. President Trump wants to dry up Iranian revenues, hoping that this would decrease, if not cripple, its capacity to intervene in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and above all Yemen.

This is the crux of the problem between the two sides. Iran has yet to send any signal that it is willing to, at least, entertain this legitimate request. The ball is, therefore, in Iran's court and it must take the first step in the direction of peace in the region.

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