If pact signed, parties must ensure no repeat of Washington exit, experts say
As Iran and other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal inch closer to reviving the agreement the US ditched in 2018, all signatories should help ensure the economic and political guarantees underpinning a resurrected deal to avoid letting Washington repeat its irresponsible behavior, experts say.
Seyed Mostafa Khoshcheshm, a senior Iran affairs analyst, said that given the effects the Ukraine-Russia conflict has had on the world economy, Europe and the United States “cannot tolerate the economic, political and security impact” of defying the Iranian demands in the midst of rising energy prices.
“They (the US) withdrew from the JCPOA irresponsibly,” said Khoshcheshm, referring to the formal name of the agreement. “Iran stood under the deal for 14 months after the US left and the Europeans promised they wanted to make up for the US’ lost part, but they never did that,” said the scholar, who also taught at the Faculty of International Relations of the Iranian Foreign Ministry and is editor-in-chief of Iran’s Fars News Agency.
On Aug 8, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell put forward a “final text” of the draft decision on reviving the JCPOA.The move came at the end of talks that began in the Austrian capital Vienna in April last year.
The EU proposal has not been made public, but a tweet by London-based TV station Iran International on Friday, cited sources as saying that it included the removal of sanctions on a number of banks and sanctions relief for about 150 institutions, the immediate release of $7 billion worth of Iranian assets overseas, and an exemption for foreign companies from sanctions in case of another US withdrawal.
On Monday, the Al Jazeera network reported that Borrell said Iran had given a “reasonable “response to the proposal and that it was transmitted to the US, which has not yet responded formally. He was also quoted as saying that the world would be a much safer place “if we can make this agreement work”.
Manjari Singh, an associate fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said the EU-brokered proposal “is the farthest level wherein both the US and Iran have come to terms with each other”.
She said that while it has been speculated that the aim of the other parties to the deal, China, France, Russia, the UK and the US plus Germany, was to contain Iran’s nuclear program and to avoid a nuclear weapons crisis in the Middle East, the West seems to have realized that the best tactic is to have a signed deal with Iran.
“Resource-starved Iran would be compelled to look at options far beyond (the) US’ reach and that could endanger the peace and stability in the region. Therefore, the best option to control Iran is to sign the deal,” Singh said.
Iran signed the agreement with world powers in July 2015, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions on the country.
But then-president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed unilateral sanctions on Teheran, prompting the latter to drop some of its commitments under the pact.
Singh said another reason for the West to quickly sign the deal is that it does not want to be involved in another escalation after the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“Therefore, to avoid any such occurrence, signing the deal with Iran serves their purpose,” she said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday that Iran has not yet received a US response. He also blamed the US for the stalemate in negotiations and said that the talks would move to the next stage if the US proved that it has the political will to reach, and keep to, an agreement.
Singh said: “There are many unanswered questions and the most pertinent one remains is, will the upcoming US administrations abide by the terms and conditions agreed upon if the deal is finally signed.”
Khoshcheshm said Iran’s “negotiators are in no rush” as they are seeking a good deal.
Xinhua contributed to this story.