Iran worried about more than a bomb
WHAT WE are watching feels like a protracted chess match — but one where Donald Trump just kicked the board over and the Europeans are scrambling to put all the pieces back.
On the other side of the table is Iran, sitting back with arms folded, a burly picture of defiance, pointing out it was keeping to the rules and that even the referee agrees.
Is this an almost statesmanlike projection of the moral high ground? Is Iran in the ascendancy, richer at home thanks to the brief period of reduced sanctions and more influential beyond its borders?
The language coming out of Tehran could certainly lead you to think so. It announced plans to enrich more uranium for peaceful means — like fuel for Iran’s only nuclear power plant and for medical functions like radiotherapy — in what French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian grudgingly admitted was a perfectly legal move.
But this disguises how grim things are in Iran, where the struggling economy is affecting ordinary people.
The week-long protests that began in late December last year in Mashdad, Iran’s second-largest city, attracting tens of thousands of people across the country, were triggered by a humble dispute: the price of eggs. Since then, Iran’s currency has sunk to historic lows against the dollar, affecting everything Iranians import from other countries — food, furniture, cars and mobile phones. Many were imported by European companies now driven away by the US sanctions.
The US President is banking on Iranians rising up to overthrow their leaders and they know it.
Chess players do not reveal their strategy in advance and Iran’s leaders are no different. Mr Trump suspects they want to use a bomb for security, but bombs are no substitute for food.
For now, the match haphazardly lingers on as the players find out if there is anything left to salvage.