Iran: What is the Future of the Nuclear Deal?
Iran: What is the Future of the Nuclear Deal?
By Victor Mikhin
September 22, 2022
While many around the world hoped for a positive reaction from the United States to Iran’s latest response, the European trio at the talks in Vienna (E3 – the UK, Germany, France) have separately issued a statement that could undo all the positive results of a year of painstaking negotiations. After Tehran responded to an American text submitted through the European Union’s coordinator for the Vienna talks, Josep Borrell, the latter passed it on to Washington. The Biden administration called the latest Iranian response “unconstructive” but refrained from responding formally, prompting speculation about the impact of the US midterm elections on negotiations in Vienna over the resumption of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Still, after days of guesswork and speculation, a response was given, but not from the American side, which had intended to do so. E3 released a joint statement that seems only to have delighted opponents of the JCPOA and caused bewilderment around the world. “As we move closer to an agreement, Iran has reopened separate issues, related to its legally binding international obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its safeguards agreement under the NPT concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This latest demand raises serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPOA. Iran’s position contradicts its legally binding obligations and jeopardizes prospects of restoring the JCPOA,” the E3 statement said demagogically and with no good reason.
This is despite the fact that Iran has long claimed that the IAEA has lost all credibility by making unfounded accusations that are politically motivated and emanate from the anti-JCPOA camp. In other words, and this fact has now become clear, the IAEA is simply a tool in the hands of the West, not an independent UN body. The E3 countries also seemed keen to make a poorly veiled threat against Iran, stating, “Given Iran’s failure to conclude the deal on the table, we will consult, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s continued nuclear escalation and lack of cooperation with the IAEA regarding its NPT (non-proliferation treaty) safeguards agreement.”
The E3 joint statement was seen by experts around the world as an irresponsible move and a servile, obsequious submission to its master, the US. Reading this statement, one gets the impression that it is the E3 that is the aggrieved party that has lost over 300 billion dollars and 1,000 lives in the last 3 years because Iran withdrew from the JCPOA. Apparently, Brussels wants everyone to believe that Iran, not the US, has blatantly violated and completely reneged on all its obligations, subsequently violating all 11 commitments it had made to rectify the situation. After all, it is both well known and not disputed by anyone in the world that it was the US that unreasonably withdrew from the JCPOA and imposed further brutal sanctions on Iran, causing the Iranian people to suffer.
In addition to the separatist actions disregarding the views of Russia and China and the utter irresponsibility, the statement also undermined the ongoing and subsequent negotiations, deepening the atmosphere of distrust. Moreover, and quite obviously, the E3 countries have only strengthened the position of the opponents of the JCPOA, which is apparently what they were aiming for. “It is regrettable that by [issuing] such an ill-considered statement, the three European countries have followed in the footsteps of the Zionist regime down a path that will lead to the failure of negotiations. It is obvious that if such an approach continues, the E3 should also accept responsibility for its consequences,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said bluntly.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, trying to justify his loyalist position to the US, demagogically signaled a lack of expectation on his part that an agreement with Iran would in the near future restore Tehran’s shattered nuclear deal with world powers. Then, realizing that the best defense is a good offense, he unceremoniously declared that Iran had no reason not to sign and that European countries would remain “patient.” And what else could the 9th Federal Chancellor say after meeting in Berlin with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who insisted that restoring the 2015 agreement would be a “critical mistake”? Incidentally, Germany still pays reparations to those Jews who were forced by Nazi Germany to leave as evacuees.
It appears that provocative pressure from Israel as well as other factors have managed to halt or delay Washington’s progress towards a return to a nuclear deal with Iran. This is clear from statements by senior Israeli officials, analysis by Israeli research centers and the media. There was a real celebration in Israel, as officials could not hide their joy at the E3 statement. “Following the Americans, yesterday the E3 countries announced that a nuclear agreement with Iran will not be signed in the near future, that the IAEA’s files opened on Iran will not be closed,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid cheerfully told a cabinet meeting. He thanked the leaders of France, Britain and Germany for their “strong position” on the issue. Then a wave of boasting and bravado swept over the Prime Minister and he took all credit for the collapse of the nuclear deal, saying, “In recent months, we held a discreet and intensive dialogue with them, and presented them with up-to-date intelligence information about Iranian activity at nuclear sites.” And further: “Israel is conducting a successful diplomatic campaign to stop the nuclear agreement and prevent the lifting of sanctions on Iran.”
It may be recalled that as the negotiations approached a crucial milestone, Israel began to take active steps to counter this, including visits to Washington by Mossad director David Barney, Israeli National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz. Israel said the diplomatic onslaught was aimed at preventing the renewal of the nuclear agreement, which Tel Aviv sees as a threat to its security. Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he would visit the US this month to meet US President Joe Biden ahead of the UN General Assembly meetings to discuss the Iranian issue. “Israel is conducting a successful diplomatic campaign to stop the nuclear agreement and prevent the lifting of sanctions on Iran,” World Israel News stressed. Apparently, Israel and its leadership have decided that they are above the UN, and only they should solve the world’s problems and only in their own interests. That is why now more than ever, the challenge of transforming our world from a unipolar to a multipolar one, where all countries have equal rights and resolve issues in the common interest, is relevant.
Lapid, who visited Germany to discuss his country’s concerns about the agreement, said that “it is not over yet – there is still a long way to go, but there are encouraging signs.” He was referring to Israel’s success in dissuading the US administration from returning to the agreement. The Times of Israel quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official as saying that during recent talks with Biden, the Israeli Prime Minister was told that the nuclear deal was not being discussed and would not be signed anytime soon. According to the website, Lapid has recently become increasingly convinced that Washington’s return to the nuclear deal is unlikely. Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers is “in the ER room” and unlikely to be extended any time soon, if at all, Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz said after European leaders expressed doubts about Tehran’s willingness to revive the pact.
“We cannot predict when the deal will be signed by major world powers and Iran,” Aleef Sabbagh, a political analyst, told Al-Ahram Weekly. “Right now, it’s not even close.” He noted that pressure from Tel Aviv appears to have delayed the signing of the agreement, and Israel’s diplomatic war against the deal has so far achieved some of its goals. However, several Israeli analysts point out that the delay in finalizing the agreement is linked to some of its details, in particular the IAEA’s investigation into traces of uranium at three sites that Tehran has not previously disclosed. Iran at the same time is demanding the cessation of this investigation as a precondition for a deal, and is apparently not about to back down. Israel, for its part, will continue to apply pressure until the last minute to prevent the signing of the agreement, focusing its attention on organizing a tough international stance in support of the IAEA investigations. This would require the establishment of a mechanism to control the funds Iran gains access to in order to ensure that they do not fall to Tehran’s allies in the region.
The Israeli opposition, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, claims that the US administration has decided to return to the agreement, but insists on more favorable terms. He also accuses the incumbent Lapid government of failing to convince Washington of Tel Aviv’s security demands, which would be harmed by the agreement. However, the current Prime Minister argues that his cabinet is working quietly and diligently and has so far succeeded in blocking the agreement. Israel often repeats that it will not be bound by the agreement if it is signed, and reserves the right not to allow Iran to become a nuclear power. Tel Aviv has also frequently threatened to resort to the military option to achieve this goal if “Israel’s security needs” demand it, despite all the peace treaty efforts of many countries around the world.
Viktor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.