The Future of the Nuclear Deal while Iran is Bluffing

ByMohammed Alsulami

Despite of all the supportive and opposing statements, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran is still volatile. During his presidential election campaign, President Donald Trump said he would scrap the deal. Later, this radical demand evolved into fixing the deal to make it crystal clear and comprehensive enough to tackle Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional behavior. President Trump, more than once, refused to ratify the nuclear agreement and eventually gave the Congress a six-month period to reconsider it. The significant part here is that President Trump has openly announced that future negotiations will be with European partners. This means that the United States, in the upcoming stage, will seek to keep its European allies on her side
As President Trump revealed his position on the nuclear deal, the European countries directly publicized their commitment to the deal even if the U.S. withdrew. The Iranian lobby and Western officials involved in the agreement assert that it is not between Iran and the United States but between Iran and the P5+1. So, if the United States withdraws, she will face international isolation on this issue and harm her own reputation. It seems, at first glance, reasonable, but it must be noted that the nuclear deal was signed by the United States during President Barack Obama’s reign. The five European countries, later, joined to make it more international and as the resolution would be issued by the UN Security Council. Also, another resolution will be issued on Iran over its nuclear program.
Roughly speaking, the European’s position was strong and firm in front of the United States. It is believed that the European countries sought to put pressure on the United States to adjust its new position and save the nuclear deal. However, at the end, they would probably accept the United States decision, if the latter insisted. Over last year, the European statements addressing the future of the nuclear agreement were contradicting, swaying back and forth. It seems the American administration has realized that they will not continue in the nuclear deal if the United States withdraws or insists on having the agreement amended. Therefore, President Trump stated that the negotiation will be with the Europeans not with the Iranians. Consequently, the Iranian Foreign Minister headed to Brussels where he met with his European counterparts.
Apparently, some of the European countries are considering to amend the nuclear deal as it will not survive May 2018 unless the pack is negotiated and amended with the United States, some experts say. Further, many assume that if the Europeans had to choose between the United States and Iran, they would never give up on the United States. In this context, Germany has put pressure on its European allies to impose new sanctions on Iran, trying to block the way for President Trump to cancel the JCPOA, as Der Spiegel reported. In view of Iran’s espionage activities in Germany, which have been discovered recently, their mutual relations will be under graver strain in the future. Deutsche Welle said that Germany may no longer support the JCPOA. Also, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) politician Reinhold Robbe said that the sanctions must be examined repeatedly to decide whether they will be sufficient or “whether the pressure on Iran must be increased.” He added that the Europeans are responsible for precisely monitoring how, why and where the money goes. He raised questions over whether “there are guarantees that the people will be provided with assistance? Or does money go down the wrong avenues” because the Europeans know how corruption is deeply rooted in Iran. The Russian posture was quite astonishing, at least for some people. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while meeting the press in the UN headquarters in New York, stated that the agreement cannot be implemented if one of the partners withdraws, it will fall apart and will not be an agreement, expecting that the United States will convince the European states to have the same position as that of Washington. The rest; United Kingdom, China, and France have not clearly announced their position on the nuclear agreement if the United States withdraws or insists on amendments.
Many politicians and analysts believe that London and Paris cannot be divergent from Washington’s position, though they try to hinder it, anyway possible. It is expected that the pressure will be increased on China, Russia, and Iran to accept a new comprehensive plan of action based on the previous one after having some articles amended and after allowing foreign inspection of Iranian military sites whenever needed. If this is the blueprint- which I believe to be the most feasible- it will be the start for a negotiation marathon between Iran and the great powers, which will be also exploited by Iran to put more pressure on the Iranian people, particularly on ethnic minorities. To avoid this end, there must be a defined period of negotiations, so Iran cannot, anyhow, exploit it to serve its own foreign and domestic policies.

Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS

Mohammed Alsulami
Mohammed Alsulami
Founder and President of Rasanah