Col Richard Kemp: involve Gulf neighbours in new Iran nuclear deal

Ex UK military commander says targets of Iranian aggression were not consulted before the 2015 agreement

UNSPECIFIED, IRAN. - JANUARY 16: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY  MANDATORY CREDIT - "SEPAHNEWS/ HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps test Siccil, Imad and Kadir ballistic missiles during a military drill at Great Salt Desert, in the middle of the Iranian Plateau, on January 16, 2021 in Iran. (Photo by Sepahnews/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel should be consulted over any revived version of the 2015 nuclear deal as they are in the crosshairs of Iranian military ambitions, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan said.

Col Richard Kemp told a webinar that the fears and concerns of Iran's Gulf neighbours were not taken on board before the first agreement was signed during the US presidency of Barack Obama.

Attempts to limit Iran's nuclear ambitions have been hit by former president Donald Trump's withdrawal from the multinational deal in 2018 and Iran's repeated breaches of its terms. Tensions between the two countries increased after Mr Trump re-imposed sanctions during a policy of maximum pressure.

European officials said on Monday that “tough but constructive” negotiations in Vienna to revive the troubled agreement were entering their most pivotal stage after weeks of haggling and brinkmanship.

“Whatever deal is agreed, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel should be part of that deal,” said Mr Kemp, a former senior adviser to the UK government on international terrorism.

“Even if they are not on paper part of the deal, they certainly should be consulted, and their concerns should be met as they were not in 2015.

“We shouldn’t forget that … the key targets for their [Iranian] aggression and their nuclear weapons are likely to be Israel first and then other states in that region.

“So, we should never accept any deal that they are not willing to sign up to as well.”

The history of the agreement showed that Iran was likely to continue breaking the terms of any new deal, Mr Kemp told an event organised by the Henry Jackson Society, a UK-based think tank.

The talks in Vienna involving the EU, Germany, France, the UK, China and Russia are seeking to bring Iran and the US back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

President Joe Biden wants his country to return to the deal, but only when Iran stops breaching its terms. Tehran says it will do so when sanctions are lifted.

Don't neglect human rights in Iran deal, say campaigners

The negotiators face further pressure from campaigners who say any deal should be linked to the release of political prisoners and other human rights issues.

A joint letter by nine rights groups urged the Biden administration to prioritise human rights in their dealings with Iran.

They expressed concerns that sanctions would be eased on regime figures involved in the repression of Iranians.

The chief executive of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, said Iran is the world's fourth highest jailer of writers and public intellectuals.

“While the pursuit of nuclear security is an essential objective, it must not come at the expense of human rights,” she said.