Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
MUCH political and diplomatic turmoil has to be faced by the Trump Administration with regard to the Iranian nuclear deal in so far as Washington’s European allies are not comfortable with President Trump’s perilous move of jettisoning the said deal. European leaders decried Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, which had lifted sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. The global community still desires for the 2015 peace resolution as the only way out.
Recently, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the deal and said Iran would not be the first to violate it. He also stressed Iran is ready to quickly revert to the situation before the deal, should the US abandon it. Israel said it destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, ending its silence over the airstrikes in what it said was a warning for an increasingly bellicose Iran threatening the country’s existence. Israel in recent months has amplified criticism of Iranian attempts to set up military bases in Syria, warning it would counter any attempts by Tehran and its allies to strengthen their presence on its border.
For years, the Iranian conservatives who have had been ingrained by a concept that combines extreme conservatism in matters of faith and philosophy seemed to have been arguing that negotiating with the US is futile. The US, these hardliners believe, is only interested only in regime change, and to counterfeit Islam in the region. Because of this evolving perspective, Iran seems to have been strategically aligned more closely with Russia and China. But as impending and crippling nuclear-related sanctions in recent years provoked Iran’s conservatives to negotiate in good faith with the international community. And yet Trump’s move to challenge the 2015 nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA – has resurrected the Iranian concerns about the United States. While the most effective sanctions had already been lifted, and are unlikely to be re-imposed, Iran’s conservatives have gained political points that they can use against their opponents at home. Put diplomatically, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was intended to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. If fully and truly implemented, the physical constraints and verification provisions of this comprehensive nuclear agreement could effectively prevent Iran from producing fissile material for nuclear weapons at its declared nuclear facilities for at least 10 to 15 years. Understandably, actual production of nuclear weapons would violate Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the JCPOA, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This has been the crux of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Within Iran, a powerful coalition of moderate forces – ranging from reformists and dissidents to civil-society actors – has long advocated for a more engaged foreign policy. Moderates advocated for more responsible foreign policy and caution on the country’s nuclear program. And they sought to deepen ties to the Iranian diaspora, in the hope that closer relationships could help solve some of Iran’s most daunting economic challenges. While examining the US- anti Iran campaign: what sort of terrorism Iran has supported in the region, we note, in reality, the Middle Eastern activity has nothing to do with American national security and is typically just an extension of historical squabbling between Iran and its biggest regional foes, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
From the Saudi perspective, Obama’s nuclear deal with Tehran meant two things: Iran would have the ability to improve its economic standing, and the capability to create a nuclear weapon – since the deal will only take effect for a relatively short period of time, 15 years, and will not destroy Iran’s technical capabilities to maintain a nuclear programme. Both results would strengthen Iran and its allies in the region. From the Iranian perspective, the US wants to keep selling weapons to the Israelis and Saudis to keep defense contractors happy, but spewing anti-Iranian rhetoric on behalf of those customers is producing diminishing returns. An Iranian nuclear bomb – one that belongs to the world of imagination, according to most experts – does not even constitute a threat to Israel, let alone the US. A newly released US document from a 1987 assessment of Israel’s nuclear weapons capabilities by the US Pentagon stated that Israel was experimenting with coding, “which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs”, described as “a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs”. That was the US assessment of Israel’s programme 28 years ago. It has been no surprise yet, that US President Barack Obama was not mystified or misguided by Netanyahu’s absurd account.
Being disappointed from Trump’s unaccommodating synergy, if Iran restarted its nuclear weapons program and it subsequently moved to carry out a crash attempt to develop a nuclear arsenal— raising the possibility of a nuclear arms race in a very unstable part of the world, we could well imagine how irrationally and unpredictably President Trump would handle that. European leaders are determined to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal. It is of no surprise- that France’s Macron, Germany’s Merkel, Turkey’s Erdogan and Russia’s Putin- all these leaders are one against Trump’s revocability approach.
Factually, Trump’s perilous approach has created a new breach in US-Transatlantic relations. By all reasonable accounts, President Trump’s recourse to reopening the Iranian nuclear deal is based on his agenda to bracket Tehran by pushing it into a trajectory of pressure and changeability about Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran — which promised to allow Iran to make its access possible to acquire peaceful nuclear energy by a multilateral negotiations agreement. Washington must realise the triumph of the JCPOA since it provides a win-win situation for both the international community and Iran. Revoking this deal, will lead to an unpredictable regional future.
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.