U.S.-Iran Negotiations Continue Even as Military Clashes Escalate

After more than a year of indirect negotiations, Iran and the U.S. are unsteadily inching toward partially reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. But far from the negotiating table, a series of military confrontations could be undermining the rationale for an atomic accord. 

On Tuesday, Iran attempted to commandeer an unmanned American maritime vessel in the Persian Gulf. Iranian state media claims the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) towed the drone to prevent accidental collisions before voluntarily releasing it to an American destroyer. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy says American forces intervened to thwart Iran’s “unlawful” effort to capture the vessel.

This is only the latest in a string of escalations between Iran, the U.S., and their respective allies in the region. 

Two long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) struck a U.S. base in Syria on August 15. In a since-deleted graphic, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) traced the drone attack to the Babil province of Iraq and explicitly identified its culprits’ Iranian affiliation. The U.S. responded with strikes against facilities used by Iranian-sponsored groups in northeastern Syria. A CENTCOM colonel later told CNN that the strikes targeted nine bunkers, but the military spared two targets to avoid human casualties. 

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