The Pentagon announced on Sunday that the US Air Force had carried out another flight over the Persian Gulf by a B-1B strategic bomber. The resumption of these threatening operations, which have grown steadily in the final days of the Trump administration, came amid warnings of “military options” from the Biden administration regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
In a statement on Twitter, the US Air Force Central Command, responsible for US military operations in the Middle East, said the flight of the B-1B Lancer bomber over the Strategic Strait of Hormuz on Saturday sent ” a clear message of reassurance “to Washington allies in the region.
The bomber was accompanied by fighter jets dispatched by US-led anti-Iran axis regimes, including Israel, the reactionary monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and the Egyptian military dictatorship of General Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi. This air squadron also flew over the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and its strategic Strait of Bab el-Mandeb.
The menacing military maneuver came as talks over the moribund Iran nuclear deal would resume in Vienna later this month between Tehran and the five major powers that are also signatories to the deal: the United States, China, Russia, UK, France and Germany.
Signed in 2015, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which traded strict restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program for the lifting of economic sanctions, was unilaterally blown up by the Trump administration, which imposed a regime âmaximum pressureâ sanctions. which targeted both Iran and any country or company that dared to do business with it. He did so as Iran continued to abide by the terms of the deal, even though Washington has never granted significant sanctions relief.
The Biden administration has kept the draconian sanctions in place, while the Western European powers have only challenged what amounts to a financial and trade blockade tantamount to a state of war against Iran. The sanctions deprived the Iranians of imported food and medicine, condemning many of them to hunger and premature death. In response, Iran has ceased to observe some of the restrictions placed on its nuclear program under the agreement, including on its level of uranium enrichment and the size of its stockpiles.
US President Joe Biden met on the sidelines of the G20 in Rome on Saturday with the heads of NATO member states that signed the Iran agreement: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The four powers issued a joint statement intended to put pressure on Tehran. He accused Iran of “stepping up the pace of provocative nuclear measures”. He declared his “determination to ensure that Iran can never develop or acquire a nuclear weapon”, while demanding that Tehran “return to a good faith effort” to advance negotiations on the relaunch of Iran. OK. He added, threateningly, “This is the only sure way to avoid a dangerous escalation, which is not in the interest of any country.”
The statement presented Iran’s failure to adhere to the limits set by the JCPOA, not the US repealing the entire agreement and imposing its “maximum pressure” sanctions regime. As the trigger for the “dangerous escalation” threatened by the Western powers.
Iran’s foreign ministry responded to the joint statement by insisting that the country does not intend to build nuclear weapons and that its nuclear program remains entirely dedicated to civilian purposes.
There were six rounds of talks in Vienna between Iran and the great powers that produced no progress. Sessions have been suspended since June, when the new government of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office.
The Iranian government sees little to negotiate. He has declared his willingness to return to full compliance with the restrictions imposed by the JCPOA once the United States ends its boycott of the agreement and lifts the sanctions.
“We have had enough of empty words already,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told a press conference on Monday. âWe have been waiting for delayed action for months. “
For its part, the Biden administration spoke of the need to “fix” the JCPOA and proposed new measures that would impose restrictions on Iran’s missile program and force Tehran to cede its influence in the Middle East to Washington’s will. hegemony over oil. rich region.
In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, one of the main supporters of the new demands on Tehran, answered the question of whether US plans “include military options. Stating, “As we always say, every option is on the table.”
Washington, he added, was also preparing “other options necessary if Iran is not ready to enter into negotiations quickly and in good faith”. Blinken wondered if the United States could “grab all the benefits of the deal”, given that Iran is said to have “learned enough, done enough” to improve its nuclear weapon capabilities.
Blinken’s remarks were widely reported by media in Israel. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said earlier this year that he had asked the country’s military to come up with new plans to attack Iran. Last week, the Israeli government announced a $ 1.5 billion program to prepare for war against Iran and secure new weapons, including bunker bombs needed to destroy Iran’s underground nuclear facilities. The Israel Times noted that the US B-1B bomber that flew over the Persian Gulf on Saturday is capable of carrying anti-bunker bombs.
Underlying the United States’ aggressive posture towards Iran is its intersection with Washington’s increasingly open preparations for a military confrontation with China.
Beijing and Tehran signed an agreement earlier this year that provides for $ 400 billion in Chinese investments in Iran under the Belt and Road Initiative in return for guaranteed oil exports at reduced prices. to China for the next 25 years. It is estimated that Iranian oil exports to China could reach 600,000 barrels per day next year, violating the US blockade.
Even as Washington has attempted to effect a strategic shift from decades of war in the Middle East to its “great power” conflict with China, this conflict threatens to unleash a new, far more devastating war in the region, while transforming each continent in a potential battlefield.