THE OPTIMISM over salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers has reached an abrupt low.
Last month it appeared that, after 18 months of talks, Tehran had sorted out any remaining issues with the EU and the US, while the likes of France, Germany and the UK were happy to wave it through.
But last week’s report from the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, has casted fresh doubt over the revival of the agreement.
Whenever a deal appears close, it has either been sabotaged by outside interests, derailed unilaterally or held up bureaucratically.
Dr Arshin Adib-Moghaddam of SOAS University suggested both the the US and EU have been driving the deal’s momentum in recent months, despite any stumbling blocks. In recent days, however, Germany, France and the UK – known as the E3 – have suggested Tehran’s recent demand to scrap the IAEA probe “raises serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPoA”.
While it’s not the first time Western powers have raised concerns over Iran’s conduct, it makes a change from the usual diplomatic saboteurs in Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“The diplomatic momentum has been driven by the European Union and the Biden Administration,” Dr Adib-Moghaddam told Redaction Report.
“Both are aware that Saudi Arabia and Israel follow their own agendas, that are not conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
“The fact is that the Trump administration reneged on an international treaty, namely the JCPOA, that was working in terms of checking the nuclear facilities in Iran fully and thoroughly. Anyone saying something else wants a war with Iran and is spreading nonsense to that end.”
In order to rescue the talks, he suggested Iran could be pushed to “compromise” on certain issues like the IRGC – Tehran dropped its demand for the organisation to be removed from the US terror blacklist, according to reports. Others could follow, though the recent IAEA probe could prove the final, and possibly immovable, hurdle.
But while recent events – the attack on Salman Rushdie, whom Iran took a fatwa out on decades ago, and the recent cyberattack on Albania – could strain diplomatic relations, there could still be enough for parties to continue coming to the table.
“There is an awareness in diplomatic circles in Europe and some quarters of the United States, that the Iranian state has various wings and political persuasions,” Dr Adib-Moghaddam said.
“The extremists who condone such horrific and inhumane acts of violence are but one constituency.”
If the 2015 JCPOA deal was a long road in itself, attempts to restart the deal have dragged out significantly. Since talks re-began, three of the seven parties involved have new leaders, while the Russian invasion of Ukraine provides more complications.
While there is a desire to get the deal done – especially from the Biden perspective – the diplomatic game of brinksmanship could allow saboteurs to take advantage.
Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Dipl. Pol. (Hamburg), MPhil, PhD (Cantab) is a Professor in Global Thought and Comparative Philosophies at SOAS.
He is the author of “What is Iran?” published by Cambridge University Press.
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