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Sep 10 2019
A US-Iran military conflict unlikely
By Li Weijian

Editor's Note: Iran announced on Friday that it would stop implementing some of the provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers to continue its nuclear research and development program. This is Iran's latest move to withdraw from the nuclear deal amid escalating tensions with the US. Prof. Li Weijian, a senior fellow at the Center for West Asian and African Studies, and  the Institute for Foreign Policy studies of SIIS shared his views on the US-Iran standoff with China Daily. Excerpts follow:

Third-party mediation needed more than ever

Despite Iran reducing its commitments to the nuclear deal and the US tightening sanctions on Iran, the situation in the Middle East has not gone out of control. The US intends to prolong the stalemate till Iran can no longer endure the economic pain, and Iran is putting up a strong façade thanks to the pressure from the opposition forces at home. Yet the tools that Iran could wield to counterattack the US are indeed few.

So Teheran has adopted an approach of gradually putting pressure on the US and its allies. But neither Iran nor the US wants a military confrontation.

France inviting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the G7 Summit was quite a diplomatically significant move. It shows European countries such as France and Germany are becoming more independent as far as their foreign policies are concerned and more freely voicing their views on global and regional affairs-a development that is expected to strengthen in the near future.

Indeed, the Middle East situation demands more effective third-party mediation, because preventing the situation from getting out of control not only suits the interests of the US and Iran but also other countries. Still, expecting the other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal to take concerted action would be impractical because not all of them would risk angering the US.

So the stalemate will continue for some time. And domestic politics will largely determine the US' next move toward Iran.

Source of documents:China Daily, Sep. 10