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US magazine: Iran much better armed, more influential than any time in modern history

The current occupant of the White House and his administration face a potential confrontation with Iran at a time when it is much better armed and more influential than at any other time in its modern history, according to an American weekly magazine.

In an article published by The New Yorker, Robin Wright — the author of the opinion piece — said the entire US presidents have failed to contain Iran’s political influence and military leverage in the West Asia region and that military action frequently floated by US President Joe Biden and his predecessors is no longer an “attractive or effective long-term option.”

General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, has previously analyzed how a conflict with Iran might play out. “If they attack out of the blue, it would be a bloody war,” Wright quoted McKenzie as telling him.

“We would be hurt very badly. We would win in the long run but it would take a year,” McKenzie added, according to Wright.

Pointing to lessons learned by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, Wright also said that a full-scale military campaign by the US would almost certainly trigger a regional war on multiple fronts.

“Iran is better armed and its military and political powerbrokers more hard-line than at any time in its modern history,” he underlined.

“Iran has hundreds of cruise missiles that can be fired from land or ships, fly at low altitude, and attack from multiple directions. They are harder for radar or satellites to detect, because, unlike ballistic missiles, their motors do not burn brightly on ignition. Cruise missiles have altered the balance of power across the Persian Gulf.”

‘High wall of mistrust’

The article also pointed to the “high wall of mistrust” made over the years between Tehran and Washington, which still bears upon negotiations underway in the Austrian capital of Vienna to remove anti-Iran sanctions imposed by the US after its exit from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“If the wall of mistrust can be reduced, then there may be some commonalities, but it’s such a high wall,” the article quoted Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying. “When we’re forbidden to access our own money for life-saving vaccines, can there be even a trace of trust between the two countries?”

To prove Washington’s good will, Amir-Abdollahian said, the Biden administration must first lift sanctions and help free billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in other countries, such as South Korea.

“If we reach an agreement, it can be used to make further progress,” he said. “If it fails, we have already said that we do not tie the future of the country to the JCPOA.”

Iran and the P4+1 group of countries, namely Russia, China, France, Britain plus Germany, started on Monday the eighth round of the Vienna talks focused on the removal of all sanctions imposed on Tehran after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the agreement.

The US is not allowed to directly attend the talks due to its pullout from the JCPOA, which took place three years after the accord was clinched by Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany in June 2015.

One year after Washington’s 2018 exit from the landmark deal and the failure of the European signatories to uphold their commitments under pressure from the US, Iran took a set of retaliatory steps away from the deal in several stages in line with its legal contractual rights.

Under the new administration, Washington says it wants to rejoin the deal, but it has been dragging its feet in removing the sanctions on Iran.

Tehran has been firmly insisting that the US must first remove the sanctions in a verifiable manner, give guarantees that it will not leave the agreement again, and compensate for all the damages inflicted on Iran due to its unlawful pullout.

The Vienna talks are to resume after a few days of recess over the end-of-year holidays.

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