Reviving Iran Nuclear Deal: Implications & Way Forward

Reviving Iran Nuclear Deal: Implications & Way Forward

“This was a horrible deal that should have never, ever been made,” stated President Donald Trump back in 2018, declaring the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action also known commonly as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

The Iran Nuclear Deal was a joint plan of action between the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Iran putting comprehensive efforts to stop Iran from the quest of attaining nuclear weapons by offering incentives in the form of sanction waivers. After Biden took the office, the US once again started its efforts to revive the nuclear deal, criticizing the Trump policy and stating that it allowed Iran to further its nuclear program. The US is pushing the EU to make a breakthrough in talks with Iran and a meeting was held in Doha but the ice did not break. Reviving the nuclear deal will have positive economic implications for Iran, the Middle East, and global security.

Iran, with its shrinking economy after the Covid-19 and the fuming clouds of global economic recession, is desperate for the revival of the nuclear deal to ease the sanctions and get economic benefits that are being hindered by the sanctions. Furthermore, Iranian oil in the market will provide relief for the economies and stability in the global oil market, after the supply-chain breakdown during Covid-19 and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine tensions.

Moreover, the Middle Eastern Security environment will improve, especially the Iran-Saudi tensions and the possible risk of a Nuclear Conflict with Israel. Similarly, the nuclear ambitions of the neighbors like the UAE and KSA will fade amid Iran limiting its nuclear program which may further the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the region, leading to a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. In addition, the stress of maintaining the oil supply chain on the OPEC countries will be reduced as Iran will contribute to the oil production and the global oil supply.

Furthermore, the US will face fewer attacks on its forces in the Middle East and the tensions in the Persian Gulf may be reduced which increased significantly after Trump’s Policy of (withdrawal from JCPOA). The US will focus more on the strategic threats posed by China and Russia, and its influence on Iran and the security situation in the Persian Gulf will improve, shifting the US military presence more towards the South China Sea and the Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Though Iran has a “Look to the East Strategy” after the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal, there are people influential in the power corridors inclined more towards the west who can play a vital role in bringing Iran and the US closer. In other words, there are peoples who the US would prefer over the current leadership and there might be more cooperation in matters related to security and the economy. Secondly, the US will remain there for its Indo-Pacific goals but the post-2018 collateral damage could see a decrease as Iran may trade freely through the Persian Gulf without encountering the US military presence.

The revival of the nuclear deal seems rewarding and there is a win-win situation for the parties, the on-ground situation is not promising as there are many hurdles. In the latest round of negotiations, Iran called for the US assurance to remain a party to the deal. While the US is demanding Iran limit its proxies in the region which are a threat to the US presence and the IRGC factor, which was designated as terrorist outfit by the Trump administration, Iranian officials say otherwise that the IRGC factor is not a pre-condition to the JCPOA.

Similarly, Iran wants economic guarantees and the sustainability of the deal, which the US is avoiding any commitment, keeping in view the upcoming presidential election as Biden Administration may not be sure of it’s victory in the next US elections and whether the next administration would continue with the current policy options or not, would be too early to say.

The US state department warned of using all the elements of national power required to stop Iran from going nuclear. In pursuit of such actions, the US imposed further sanctions on Iranian Petrochemical Facilities in foreign countries, freezing its assets to push Iran for revival. But things went the other way and Iran, in turn, turned off more IAEA inspection cameras on their facilities, speeding enrichment, and declared to have the “technical capability” for making a nuclear weapon.

Revival is the only way forward both for the region and the world. The point of discussion or revival must be limited to what actually was agreed in the JCPOA, letting go of other issues of bilateral and mutual concerns like the IRGC. Had Iran opted to go nuclear, it would be another blow to the regional security, global economy, non-proliferation efforts, oil and gas markets, and the Middle East could once again be a battleground, and this will lead to further proliferation in the region which will intensify the threats of nuclear mishap multifold.

Published in Global Affairs September 2022 Edition 

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Adil Khan

Written by Adil Khan

Adil Khan is a correspondent at Global Affairs. He is a student of Strategic Studies at National Defence University Islamabad. His areas of interest include geopolitics and non-traditional security.

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