On Tuesday, 8 May, US President Donald Trump announced that USA would leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the official agreement reached in 2015 on the Iranian nuclear deal. Trump pointed to the desirability of a new agreement. It will be curious to observe, if any concrete suggestions for a new agreement follow this statement.
Despite the decisive language used in the announcement, the motivation of the US administration isn’t that obvious. There was no sufficient evidence provided to indicate that the Iranian authorities would break the deal. Washington’s irritation over Iran’s policies in Syria is understandable, but these policies have hardly anything to do with Iran’s nuclear program. Besides that, breaking the JCPOA can hardly prevent Tehran from advancing its interests in Syria, since Iran has invested too much in Syria to risk achieving the expected results.
President Trump’s latest move might well look like an effort to exhibit US power in a region where the failure of US foreign policy has plagued the psyche of both Americans and the global community alike.
In the meantime, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano made a statement on Wednesday that tells that there are no grounds to think that Iran is breaking the deal:
The IAEA is closely following developments related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As requested by the United Nations Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board of Governors in 2015, the IAEA is verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime under the JCPOA, which is a significant verification gain. As of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran.
It is hardly coincidental that the situation in the south of Syria on its border with Israel escalated exactly during these days, when Israel bombed several targets on Syrian territory, claiming that it was a reaction to an Iranian attack launched from the Syrian soil. These developments might shift Iranian-Israeli tensions to the next level, making the prospect of confrontation more possible. Should events reach that point, the world could witness a situation even worse than what the war in Syria has brought over the last few turbulent years.
Among other possible ramifications is the Iranian political system’s tightening, since Hassan Rouhani, who is considered to be a moderate leader and open to international cooperation, can be discredited within Iran, should the JCPOA break down completely.
So far though, all the participants of the deal (with the exception of the US) look resolute in their intention to stick to the agreement. In the case of France, Germany, Great Britain, and Europe as a whole, the current predicament promises to become another test for their international stature.
As for Iran, Hassan Rouhani claimed that the country is fully prepared to deal with the unfolding scenario. Iran endured pretty long periods of international sanctions before and had enough time to elaborate mechanisms of surviving and even developing in the sanctions mode. Whereas this time continuing support of other participants of the JCPOA is supposed to make this burden easier for Iran. Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal has in turn discredited the US as a possible contributor to global stability.
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