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Considering the future of the Iran nuclear deal

The Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

For nuclear nonproliferation, the remaining parties to the JCPOA must continue with constructive dialogue to help keep the deal alive.
By Elif Beyza Karaalioglu • Oct 19, 2020.   The future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the Iran nuclear deal — is uncertain. In the absence of US leadership, representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Russia and Iran met on September 1 in Vienna to discuss the accord.

The deal, which imposes limitations on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program, was agreed in July 2015 between the Iranians and the P5+1 group — China, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — and implemented six months later. The deal was struck when the Obama administration was in the White House following years of negotiations. The JCPOA gave Iran relief from international economic sanctions in return for dismantling major parts of its nuclear program and giving access to its facilities for inspection.

Yet ever since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in November 2016, the future of the JCPOA has hung in the balance. Trump made it a campaign promise to pull out of the Iran deal. He kept his word and officially withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in May 2018, saying the deal is “defective” and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its interference in the affairs of other countries in the Middle East.

Washington has since reinstated US sanctions on Iran and sought to penalize any nation doing trade with the Iranians, which has led to widespread criticism. In response, Iran has resumed its uranium enrichment at the Fordow nuclear plant, which is banned under the JCPOA.

The events surrounding the Iran deal have seen their ups and downs, but one thing is for sure: The collapse of the JCPOA is in no one’s best interest………….

Considering that US–Iran diplomatic relations are a nonstarter under the Trump administration, the result of the US presidential election on November 3 will be critical. President Trump has promised to reach a new deal with Iran “within four weeks” if he is reelected. If he wins, his administration would have to reshape its approach toward Iran in a constructive way to meet the timeline he has set. On the other hand, if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins, his administration would likely rejoin the JCPOA, as well as seek additional concessions from Tehran. In a recent op-ed for CNN, Biden stated, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”

Biden served as the vice president under the previous Obama administration, which, together with the P5+1 group, negotiated the JCPOA back in 2015. Therefore, it is safe to say that the future of the nuclear deal might just rest on the outcome of the US election.

A Regional Arms Race

For now, however, the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has weakened the impact of the accord. More importantly, the near-collapse of the deal could have a direct impact on the next Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference in 2021, potentially drawing criticism from non-nuclear-weapon states that may wish to pursue civilian programs of their own.

The JCPOA is not only important for global nonproliferation efforts, but also for stability in the Middle East. The complete failure of the deal would have severe implications.  ………

Sanctions on Iran

On August 20, France, Germany and the UK issued a joint statement saying they do not support the US request for the UN Security Council to initiate the “snapback mechanism” of the JCPOA, which would reimpose the international sanctions against Iran that were lifted in 2015. As the US is no longer a party to the JCPOA, it has limited influence over its enforcement. Therefore, the Security Council rejected the US move.

The Iranian economy was already fragile before President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, and US-enforced sanctions are further complicating the situation. High living costs, a deep recession and plummeting oil exports are just the tip of the iceberg………..

Nuclear Nonproliferation

With all of this in mind, it is vital that the remaining parties to the JCPOA continue with constructive dialogue to try to uphold the agreement. Everyone benefits from the deal, and its success depends on each side’s fulfillment of their responsibilities and commitments, particularly Iran’s full compliance.

Most importantly, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is necessary for the future of nuclear nonproliferation. If the deal collapses, then the world enters uncharted territory.

October 20, 2020 - Posted by | election USA 2020, Iran, politics international

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