BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

IRAN AND THE BOMB

December 02, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 2 Episode 25
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
IRAN AND THE BOMB
Chapters
2:28
Sir. Mark Lyall Grant
20:52
Colin Clarke / Soufan Centre
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
IRAN AND THE BOMB
Dec 02, 2020 Season 2 Episode 25
Dana Lewis

In November an Iranian top nuclear scientist is assassinated.  Israel is blamed. 

Is Iran complying with an International nuclear deal to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons, or it this smoke and mirrors and deception by Tehran?

Should incoming U.S. President Joe Biden re-enter a nuclear agreement, which Former President Trump pulled out of claiming it was horrible deal? 

What will Iran do next?

In this Back Story Host  Dana Lewis interviews Sir. Mark Lyall Grant, who was the former National Security Advisor for Britain and negotiated with The Iranians.  

And  we also speak to The Soufan Centre's analyst on Iran, Colin Clarke. 

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In November an Iranian top nuclear scientist is assassinated.  Israel is blamed. 

Is Iran complying with an International nuclear deal to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons, or it this smoke and mirrors and deception by Tehran?

Should incoming U.S. President Joe Biden re-enter a nuclear agreement, which Former President Trump pulled out of claiming it was horrible deal? 

What will Iran do next?

In this Back Story Host  Dana Lewis interviews Sir. Mark Lyall Grant, who was the former National Security Advisor for Britain and negotiated with The Iranians.  

And  we also speak to The Soufan Centre's analyst on Iran, Colin Clarke. 

Speaker 1:

Covert and over key part of the plan was to form new organizations to continue the work. This is how dr. Musen is a day a nd a project about put it, remember that name [ inaudible] the general lame is to announce the closure of project a mount, but then he adds special activities. You know what that is? Special activities will be carried out under the title of scientific k now-how d evelopment.

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone. I'm Dana Lewis and welcome to another edition of backstory that was Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. Talking about the Uranian senior nuclear scientist , who on November the 27th was assassinated by a remotely operated series of weapons in Iran , Wilson , r esided. It was a Brigadier general in the Islamic revolutionary guards, an academic physicist, and he headed up the nuclear program of I ran. Netanyahu has always been a proponent of military action against Iran and likely ordered the killing. It's ironic that just a few days before the h eat on [ inaudible] [ inaudible] newspaper in Israel ran an analysis piece saying Netanyahu warns Biden. As if he's I ran strategy hadn't failed miserably with Obama and Trump in terms of actually influencing the nuclear deal. It said the prime minister never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The essence of that article was in warning incoming us president B iden, not to go back on the 2015 nuclear agreement. Mr. Iran, as Netanyahu was often dubbed in Israel could have taken an active role in the original nuclear talks with Tehran and made the deal to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb air tight , but Netanyahu preferred to sulk on the sidelines and then heavily criticized the agreement, poisoning his relations with the Obama presidency. And now probably he's doing the same with the Biden administration on this backstory analysis from the Soufan center think tank on what he run may do now, but first, a rare opportunity to hear from a man who was on the European team, negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal. He was a former national security advisor here in Britain, incredibly well briefed with firsthand knowledge on Iran and its attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

Speaker 3:

All right , in London where I am now, I want to introduce you to sir, Mark Lyle grant, who previously worked for the foreign and Commonwealth office as high commissioner in Pakistan. And he served the UK is a ambassador to the UN for six years, and he was national security advisor to two prime ministers, David Cameron and Theresa May until 17. Hi Mark. Thanks for joining us. Thanks Donna . Pleasure to be here, mr. Investor, can I say, I mean, you , you were in Iran, you went there as part of the negotiations. Um, how many times?

Speaker 4:

Well, just once , um, I was the UK , um, Iranian nuclear negotiator for basically a two and a half year period when I was the political director in the foreign office in London and together with the France Germany, United States, China and Russia, we negotiated successfully whilst I was there, but eventually leading to the joint comprehensive plan of action , uh, which was a great infinity 15 . And as part of that process , uh, we went to Tehran in , uh , 2008 , um , present , uh , an agreed plan by the foreign ministers of those six countries. And then we met Iran twice more , uh , in Geneva , um, as follow up meetings to that first one. So we had just the one visit to Taylor .

Speaker 3:

And what was that like? What was the atmosphere like in Tehran?

Speaker 4:

Well , I mean, Tyrone is a , I hadn't been there before. It's a very interesting , uh , city. I mean, you've got the mountains in the background. I wouldn't say it's a beautiful city, but the setting is , is very pleasant. Um, and there's a lot of people who, if you meet them privately can speak perfectly openly. One of the paradoxes about Iran and , and particularly the rupture between Iran and United States since 1979 is that Iran is probably has a population that is more pro Western than any of the Arab nations in the region. It has great internet titration than any of the neighbors near the , in the Arab countries. And therefore it is a quite a sophisticated population. And when you meet in private, as I met with various , uh , uh , NGOs and think tankers after the official tools, and you can have some very interesting discussions ,

Speaker 3:

Let's fast forward to where we are now. I mean, a lot has happened . So , right. So now you have , uh, people who are calling , uh, in Europe, diplomats that are saying France, Germany, the UK must move quickly to set out a roadmap for Iran so that the , the incoming Biden administration , uh , we'll get the U S to come back to the table, get Iran to come back to the table, especially now given the escalating tensions. Do you think that's happening in the background and it's got to happen?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I'm sure it is happening and it , it should happen. Um, because there is an opportunity with Joe Biden coming in in January to see whether there is a possibility of reengaging Iran on this , uh , nuclear deal. But cause personally, and I think I I'm speaking , uh , certainly for the three European governments , uh , it was a mistake for president Trump to pull out of the deal completely in 2018, the deal perfect. Let's be a hundred percent clear about that. And we can talk about that and weaknesses in the deal, but it was certainly a lot better than the potential alternatives at the time. It was therefore mistake to just pull out of the deal rather than see whether it would be improved in some way. So I think Dubai ,

Speaker 3:

If I can jump in there, I mean, John Bolton, the former national security advisor of Trump and a lot of different Republicans have poured so much water on this deal saying that it's unverifiable, it's the, you know, Trump himself is saying, it's the worst deal ever. Why did they say that? If you say, essentially,

Speaker 4:

Let me, let me, let me address some of those criticisms because essentially there are three criticisms that you can make legitimate criticisms you can make of the deal that was struck. Uh , the first is that it covered only the nuclear weapons program. It did not cover a ballistic missile technology program, which of course is important. Secondly, it did not cover Iran's malign regional role it's support for terrorist organizations for them . Fears is below et cetera, in the region and its attempts to destabilize some of its names. And thirdly, the deal was time limited. There was a sort of sunset clause in the deal. So it would last only a maximum of 15 years. Now those are all legitimate criticisms, but you have to put that against the alternatives at , because if I just could delve into the history a little bit, there was a time when I was , uh, in the negotiating where the intelligence was clear that Iran had the capability to acquire a nuclear weapon, a bomb, and you feel a bomb within a less than one year period. Now this deal, it prevent , uh, Avon, former nuclear weapons for at least 15 years. Of course it had some very important characteristics in it. It had in it , um, the need to eliminate entirely the stockpile of medium enrich uranium. It had to get rid of the , reduce the stock pile of low in which germanium , um, 80, 98% of that. And he only allowed very limited amounts of low enriched uranium for the next 15 years. It also reduce the number of centrifuges by two-thirds . And most importantly, and this is a based some of the commentary that you've mentioned. It was entirely verifiable. There was a whole regime of inspections by the energy, by the international atomic energy agency, which is a thought off , uh , affiliated to the UN if you like , where they could go with , uh, inspections whenever they wanted in all the facilities that were covered . So it was , uh , I think a good deal. And what it meant was two things. One that it prevented everyone acquiring a nuclear weapon for first 15 years and 15 years is a long time in politics. So in that 15 years, you could have regime change into Iran. You could have , uh , new abilities to attack the program, perhaps offensive, cyber weapons, et cetera, that could be used against the program. So buying 15 years, when it looked as though they would have that capability within one year was very important. And he did this famous musical , um, the fork in the work that as you approach the period where you had a fall , where you had to decide, are you all gonna bond me around and try and take out militarily? All its nuclear facilities, incidentally would not be easy because they are deep, deep, underground. Uh, many of them or the other folk is that you accept, like we have for India and Pakistan so that they have acquired nuclear weapons despite the nonproliferation treaty. And you contain them in some other political diplomatic way. That is the fork in the road that the JCP airway avoided or pushed back at least the 15, 15 years, what we're faced with now, having president Trump, having pulled out of the deal and essentially the team falling apart, although the Europeans have never sort of formally advocated isn't normal in fact is Iran completely, but it has started reaching the deal is that you're going to just bring that fork in the road to get closer. So there is an opportunity now to try and reverse that bad decision that I think president Trump made . Why did he do it?

Speaker 3:

You say, you know, people like Bolton and Trump say it wasn't verifiable, but I mean, clearly it's just not your , just not your opinion, but I mean, the UA , the UN the IAEA clearly is showing us pictures and life camera feeds. And they said it was absolutely verifiable. And that's why Europeans were willing to stick with the deal. Why did the Americans want to pull out of it just for political a headline? You know , how was it understandable?

Speaker 4:

I think there's a lot of politics in it. I mean, you're right to , to quote the fact that president Trump had said it was the worst deal ever. And he said that before he was elected, I mean, this was during his sort of campaign rhetoric. And at the fundamentally it wasn't a bomber deal. You know, the deal was done by president Barack Obama and everything that president Obama did, president Trump didn't like whether there was a pharma care in generally or, or lots of the foreign policy issues. So given the , a bomber considered the nuclear deal to be a sort of shiny example of his achievements in foreign policy. And to be honest, he didn't have a huge number to point to, but,

Speaker 3:

And you're not the first one to say that. Yep .

Speaker 4:

Well, listen , it was an opportunity to, to attack it. I think it was probably more that than anything else. I think then you fold in Israel probably a bit played a role in it because don't forget that, you know , president Trump had two years in office before he pulled out after the deal, and it's not complete coincidence that he did so shortly after John Bolton was appointed as national security,

Speaker 3:

Right? Bolton was never a favor of dealing with Iran, negotiating with Iran , uh , and was always a proponent of military action against Iran, but without really ever laying out how that would be successful, otherwise Israel probably would have done it on its own, but you roll in Israel too, though. I mean, there is another interloper and a state, which didn't think it's a real deal and didn't think that it was verifiable and thought all along that Iran was slowly making the bomb anyway.

Speaker 4:

Yes, he made that case publicly that the United nations over call with a big sort of cartoon picture of a bomb and , uh , an hour threatening that was, and I attended talks between , um, present upon it as an engine yard who , and Theresa May in Downing street when we argued back and forth about the merits of the, of the nuclear deal. Um, I think , uh, and I post me argued the case with , um, with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon , uh, and Trump's team when , um, when they came into office. So, you know, we knew the arguments that the Israelis were going to make, and we knew the arguments that president Trump's team were going to make, but we simply didn't agree with them. And I think they had a, perhaps a lack of understanding, not being raised, but the Trump team and a slight lack of understanding of the history that had gone into this on the sort of 15 years of negotiations that had led up to up to the deal. I think there's in yarns point of view, of course he wanted , uh , Trump to , uh, advocate the deal who, because he wanted a free hand to try and actually force the fork in the road. I think Israel fought came. He could persuade the Americans to do the bombing. I mean, Israel could do some itself, but it could wipe out Iran's nuclear facilities on the turf .

Speaker 3:

And now you have Israel that has carried on this allegedly this assassination of most in fact Rosati. And of course, Netanyahu hasn't commented. And I think the head of his intelligence services has said they don't know who carried out the deal, but certainly Iran thinks it was Israel. And maybe some of the Iranian opposition that is based in Europe, they have accused them as well. Does it achieve anything? Does it roll back a nuclear program by killing the head scientist? And who do you think did it?

Speaker 4:

I , I don't, I mean, I, I don't know who did it, but I don't think it's unreasonable to conclude that it was probably the Israelis. Um, and I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that the timing is linked to the fact that president Trump has two more months in the office, but I think, whereas you could argue, and I think by probably would argue that the killing of general Soleimani in January, this year by like eight have quite a , uh , substantive impact on the ability of the COOs force to , uh , carry out terrorist operations overseas, but the was ahead. And he was a very powerful figure. I'm not so sure about factories . Are there , I mean, he's certainly an important scientist with other scientists and Iran already has the nuclear know-how, it's not as though it needs a research. It's more about the development of the program rather than actually , uh , initiate things , such semi to get the technology. Right. So , so I , I'm less convinced I'm not , I don't know, back resigned his background and his pitch size wrong . Um, I don't think it will have a particularly substantial impact on the , um, program itself. And I think there is a risk that it could be counterproductive , but do reasons one, it will reinforce , uh, Iranian , um, incentive and determination to plus , and with the program. And also, let's not forget that there are presidential elections in Iran coming in 2021. And president Rouhani may not look like a sort of moderate Democrat , and certainly isn't a moderate Democrat, but as we know from Ahmadinejad and others who have proceeded him , there are people who are much more radical and much more hard-line than him , uh , who will leave on notes of , uh , attacks. And it will certainly improve their chances on election.

Speaker 3:

If whoever carried out this attack was interested in carrying up the pavement for a Biden administration, to re-engage with Iran and hoping that Iran will fiercely respond and make the gap between dialogue with a new American administration, even larger. Do you think that Iran will disappoint them? Are they, are they smart enough to hold back and wait for that moment where they can move to dialogue rather than move to some kind of response, whether wherever it be.

Speaker 4:

I think it's difficult to judge that because one called , think about Iran as a political entity. Yeah . You can say in Saudi Arabia that all the decisions are taken by one, maybe two people, you can't say that in Iran, you know, it's not a democracy, but there is a plurality of politics in Iran that is completely absent from the Arab States, for instance. So there is a precedent, he has a role, Ronnie , but there is the Supreme leader. There's the IGC , there's the bizarre is there's the Magister shooter . Now all of these bodies have an influence in the eventual decision at night be taken in . So I think if you look at president Mahoney or the foreign ministers a week, they will certainly want to not close off the possibility of engagement with Joe Biden , but equally Israelis probably absolutely. For the reasons you say, have an interest in making it much more difficult that we engagement to take place. And president Trump in his last couple of months may help to facilitate that. So I think there is a risk that Iran will be, will be pushed into a retaliation, which would make engagement more difficult. Certainly

Speaker 3:

Last question to you, you know, you said you got to that fork in the road where, you know, you, you, you either had to choose them getting a bomb or you had to choose dialogue . Um, and then the drawbacks in the deal with the fact that you didn't take into it , it didn't , uh , put a new surround their rocket program, or it didn't bridal malign activities. I mean, it's, it's almost naive to think that a , a, a new agreement, even with the best intentions , uh , is suddenly going to deal with all of that. I mean, it's , it's almost a lot of people would say, you have to start somewhere, go back into , uh, a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran. And then while you have whatever the period is going to be this time, whether it's going to be another 15 years or up to that 15 years, then you start dealing with some of these other issues. Or do you think it should be a more encompassing in retrospect, a more encompassing deal?

Speaker 4:

Well, I think you can try and make it a more encompassing deal. I mean, let's not forget that the original deal, yes, it was restricted to the nuclear program, but that didn't prevent other action taking place at the same time on the ballistic, besides , and particularly on the regional, well, it didn't rule out anything either then, or indeed on the nuclear program at the end of the 15 , 15 year period, know , John Bolton is a good example of someone who says often let's make the problem bigger. So we made the problem bigger. We bring in these other two issues and then let's sit down and negotiate. And I think there may well be , uh , an effort to try and do that, but whether it will be successful or not, we'll see , um, it wasn't successful in the sort of 15 year negotiations in which I was involved. Um, but it's, there is no doubt that what is constraining, the Arabians is the sanctions. They do have economic sanctions. The UN security council is United against the nuclear program. So the opportunity for tougher sanctions, so they are suffering and that may make them more amenable to some of these wider discussions,

Speaker 3:

Ambassador, Mark Lau grant. Great to have your perspective, somebody who's been in the room and we're part of the negotiations as a former national security advisor to two prime ministers here in Britain. Great to talk to you, sir. Thank you. All right . Let's go to Pittsburgh now. And Colin Clark is a senior research fellow with the Soufan center. Hi, Colin, how are you doing Dana timing? You know, talk to me about the assassination of the, the senior nuclear scientist. What , why now? And who do you think that?

Speaker 5:

Well, I think there's considerable concern. Um, at least by the Israelis that , uh , Biden administration is not going to be , um, as open-minded to , uh, you know, Israel's kind of point of view as the Trump administration was. And I , and I think that's probably correct. Um, there are concerns that the Biden administration will re-engage with the Iranians and attempt to reinsure , uh, the multi-lateral , uh, nuclear deal. And that's something that , um , the Israelis are very adamant against

Speaker 3:

Why isn't it than Yahoo, so adamantly against it. And then I also talked to John Bolton, Trump's national security advisor and former ambassador to the, to the, to the UN before. And he said, it just wasn't verifiable. I mean, they, they really , um , you know, they really put holes in the agreement. And yet you talk to other people, Europeans here who some of them I've talked to who helped negotiate this agreement and they say it was verifiable and it was a good agreement. And it stopped Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, well, clearly Netanyahu disagrees. I think, you know, many hardliners within Israel are uncomfortable , uh, where there comes to an element of trust with the Iranian regime. And I think that's born over decades of , uh , mistrust and , and , and so , uh, in some ways I do see the perspective of Netanyahu, however , um, you know, it's my belief that the only really viable way forward is engaging with the Iranians diplomatically. And even if we are able to kind of , uh, you know , renegotiate a deal, I'm not one for blind trust. I'm , I'm more of a guy that believes in, you know, trust in God, but lock your car

Speaker 3:

Trust, but verify as the Russians or as , um, as president Reagan said to glory , you know, trust, but verify. And in fact, in this case, they had , uh , UN inspectors in there verifying, and the UN the IAEA seemed like they were pretty happy with the outcome. Look, do you believe, and I've just read your report that you wrote for the Soufan center. Um, do you believe that , uh, the Saudis were approached in this meeting by, by Netanyahu to lay the groundwork for a military strike against Iran by the Trump administration?

Speaker 5:

I don't know. I hope not. Um, I do believe it's feasible that the Saudis were approached. Um, but you know, if you are the Saudis, the MRR or , or, you know, another country in the region, and you think that , um, you know, you've got leverage or you've got some chips to play, I don't know why you'd cash them in now with the Trump administration. You're more likely to wait , uh, and , and engage with divided administration because you're , otherwise you're dealing with a lame duck. Uh, I know that Trump's approach has been one of scorched earth. He's trying to break everything on his way out , uh, which is really, you know , in my opinion, that's detrimental to us policy , uh, you know, it's really a policy of vengeance , uh , and you know, so it's, it's going to be something we're going to have to spend a lot of time repairing. Um, so, so, yeah. Is it feasible that the Saudis were approached about this? Probably. Um , but I don't think it's wise to , uh, begin a conflict , uh, right. You know, full stop, much less , um, you know, with less than 70 days left in the administration , uh, and really no mandate, right? I mean, this is someone that's , um, spending most of this time trying to discredit free and fair elections in his own country.

Speaker 3:

Well, he's always worried about his record and wiping out , uh, president Obama's record. And this deal by the way was part of the Obama administration's deal that he wanted to get rid of in the campaign. But you mentioned the word vengeance. Talk to me about Iranian inventions. I mean, what are they capable of doing? And do you think that they'll pull the trigger on retaliation at this point,

Speaker 5:

Could be , uh, if you go back to September, 2019, you see exactly what the Iranians are capable of doing operating through the region, putting the Houthi rebels, operating from a Rocky soil , uh, you know, in areas kind of nominally controlled by Iraqi Shia militia. Uh, if you look at , uh, again, going back to the who these , their capabilities, you're talking about a violent non-state actor with the capabilities of a nation state, I mean, really fairly sophisticated , um, you know, ability to use drones , um, ability to use , um, some, some pretty high-speed weaponry, including vessels .

Speaker 3:

You can go after who

Speaker 5:

And attack the Saudis attack, Saudi infrastructure , uh, primarily. And I think, you know, when you go back to September, 2019, I remember, I think I was on Bloomberg , uh, television a couple of days after the attack. And the interviewer said, well, so what's the United States going to do? And I said, what do you mean we weren't attacked Saudis were, and he was kind of taken aback that , um, you know, I would even suggest that the Saudi should defend themselves. I made a Quip, which, you know, I think , um, you know, drew , uh , drew a lot of flack from it, but I said, we sell them the weapons. Do we have to pull the trigger for them as well? Um, so, you know, I'm certainly not concerned,

Speaker 3:

Uranian missile assault on a oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, but then there have been many other, what , what else could Iran do? I mean, what, what are the targets terms of Israeli , uh, targets , uh, American targets abroad? What do they have? What are they capable of?

Speaker 5:

People have a lot look through Lebanese has Bola . They have global reach. We've seen, has Bola , uh , Stripe , you know, all over the world in Latin America and elsewhere. Um , there's been plots that have been disrupted , uh, in Georgia and India and Thailand. We've seen the bus bottling in Bulgaria. So I have no , um, no doubt that the Iranians are capable of responding. The question becomes how wise is it? Uh, you know, the Israelis are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Uh, and I just don't think getting into a kind of tit for tat conflict with Israel right now , um, you know, the Israelis have, have shown what they're capable of doing. Um, and , and, you know, they don't really feel compelled to hold back. So it would be unwise on the part of Iran , um, to , um, to respond in full force. But what I will say is Iran is kind of the master of walking right up to the line without crossing it, these kinds of nibbling attacks, you know, around the edges. And for that they they'd likely use proxies whether, you know, Shia militia in Iraq , um , or Lebanese Hezbollah or another kind of Iranian prophecy .

Speaker 3:

And I guess the big question for the Biden administration now is can they easily reenter this agreement with Iran? Um, because a lot of things have happened on the ground. And in fact, the Iranian, the program has moved, the nuclear program has moved forward. So what is the challenge for a newly elected president Biden to , to try to bring not Iran to heal, but to have some kind of agreement on transparency within their nuclear program and, and to try to get them to step back.

Speaker 5:

It's , it's a real challenge. I mean, it's certainly no fait accompli, as you know , some analysts have described and commentary and various hop takes that. I've read that just because there's a Biden administration means we're going to have an Iran nuclear deal. I think far from it, the region looks quite different than it did even four years ago. Um, you know, some of the alliances , uh , have shifted. So I wouldn't say that it's a certainty , uh, that the us will reenter the deal. And I think, you know, there's a lot that Iran still needs to do , um, including curving its behavior through the proxies that we just talked about , uh, before, you know, we should, you know, just blindly reenter a deal , um, and reward the Iranians. Uh, I just don't think it's smart.

Speaker 3:

Do you really think that the discussion should be that broad, that, that not only do you talk about their nuclear program, but you start talking about malign activities, you start talking about their missile programs. A lot of people think that that's just becomes unwieldy and impossible in a , in a discussion to come to an agreement that you need to start somewhere and you at least start building blocks on that agreement and the sanctions around it and their nuclear program.

Speaker 5:

I do think it's worth discussing because one, you need to raise the issue that it's unacceptable now, what your expectations are in terms of what you're going to get out of that is totally different. But yeah, I do think it needs to , uh , uh, to be broached. Uh , and I, and I think, you know, it all depends on how you view your own leverage, right? Um, with economic sanctions, that's one of the problems I've had with the Trump administration over the last four years. I've never really gotten a sense of how effective the Trump administration itself believes this maximum pressure campaign has been , uh, because it's been, and I've written about this with , uh, with my colleague Aryan Tabatabaie, we've called it a tautology of sorts because no matter what Iran seems to do, the administration trumpets , uh, you know, the success of the maximum pressure campaign, but then also paints Iran , um , as this , uh, actor that can't be stopped and that's, you know, dominating the middle East. Well, if that's the case, then maximum pressure hasn't worked, right. Uh, if Iran acts out and increases attacks, you know, the administration has said, look, maximum pressure is working. And if the attacks decrease, they say, look, maximum pressure is working. So , uh , you know, I don't know what the administration really believes. I don't know if they do well, it's up to the next administration. Now. It looks like that this contemplation of any kind of military action in Iran , um, th that shadow seems to have passed. Although I wouldn't put anything past a desperate , uh, president Trump right now, but , uh , we'll see what president Biden does in the future then, and whether they can bring them back into some kind of a negotiated settlement. Yeah. I mean, I'll just say, you know, lastly, I think it speaks to the incoherence of, of Trump's strategy in the middle East. If the goal, as you stated before us and endless Wars, he's going to start one right before he leaves office. I think we haven't had a coherent approach to the region. It's been one of transactionalism. Um, and , and so I'm looking forward to a more cogent , uh, you know, pragmatic relationship or, you know , uh , strategy formulation with a Biden administration, with someone like a Jake Sullivan that knows the region. Well, that knows the players that actually works across the aisle and consults with, you know, so-called hardliners within the United States. And so , um , I'm hopeful that , uh, we're, you know, we're able to make progress on that front. Thank you, Colin. Thank you.

Speaker 2:

And that's our backstory on Iran and the bomb in case you didn't know, as we speak, there is a trial underway in Belgium of an Iranian diplomat and several others believe to be from Iran intelligence network for smuggling explosives into Europe, and then plotting to carry out a bombing of an Iranian opposition group in France. The bomb was handed over at a pizza hut in Luxenberg. The intent prosecutors say was to blow up a rally in France of a prominent opposition group to the Uranian government. Hundreds would have been killed the Uranian diplomat Asadullah Assadi allegedly carried the bomb a little more than a pound of tea , TP , explosives, and a detonator to Vienna from Iran in his luggage on an Austrian airlines flight. He then drove it to Luxembourg in a rented car and handed it over to an Iranian Belgium couple on June 30th, 2018. And it was the Israeli Mossad who tipped off French and Belgium authorities. Iran has denied the plot and said the charges were designed to embarrass Tehran just before president Hassan Rouhani traveled to Europe to rally support for the 2015 nuclear deal. Thanks for listening to backstory, share this link, subscribe to our podcasts , wherever you listen. We're on most major platforms like Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Amazon music, Pandora, Deezer, and many more. If you would like to sponsor this podcast, let us know. I'm Dana Lewis and I'll talk to you again.

Speaker 6:

[inaudible] .

Sir. Mark Lyall Grant
Colin Clarke / Soufan Centre