The coming three months are pivotal for the fate of nuclear deal between Iran and United States. Tension may grow higher if no side appeases in time.
Joe Biden, the newly elected president of United States, has recurrently announced his readiness to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Iran has also said that its adherence to JCPOA is conditioned on the complete lifting of sanctions by the US. The game is currently in need of a starter.
The world has witnessed a major challenge between the two countries since 2018, when United States withdrew from nuclear deal under the presidency of Donald Trump, and Iran gradually decreased his commitment to the deal, because of the tough economic sanctions imposed by the US.
Donald Trump, then the president of United States, drew back from the deal, and launched “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. His unexpected defeat in the November 3 election, however, led to a major shift in the US approach towards this nuclear deal.
After his victory, Joe Biden administration has shown tendency to conditionally revive the JCPOA. According to experts, it has been one of the consequences of a change at the top of the US political power pyramid. Seemingly, Iran has a particular significance for Biden and having a bilateral relationship with it is one of his priorities. Biden believes that Trump’s “maximum pressure” didn’t succeed and cannot be effective anymore. However, he insists that Iran must take the first step by decreasing enrichment of uranium.
Although relieving the sanctions will cost billions of dollars for Biden, he persists to do it. Replacing strategy of confrontation with diplomacy has been Biden’s strategy in other areas like Paris climate accord and NATO too.
As Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, says “our view is that diplomacy is the best path forward to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That does not mean they have clearly not taken the steps needed to comply and we have not taken any steps or made any indication that we are going to meet the demands that they are putting forward either.”
European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has also suggested Iran to participate in a meeting with P4+1 – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany – in order to start settling the matter.
Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, said “they are likely to agree to an interim set of measures to buy more time for negotiating a timetable for a mutual return to full compliance with the JCPOA.”
Recently, Iran announced that it has stopped providing a situation for United Nations’ nuclear watchdog to access to its nuclear program.
The European signatories of the nuclear deal called Iran’s decision “dangerous.” “It will significantly constrain the IAEA’s access to sites and to safeguards-relevant information,” the E3 foreign ministers said. “It will also constrain the IAEA’s ability to monitor and verify Iran’s nuclear program and nuclear-related activities.”
This week IAEA General Director Rafael Grossi travelled to Tehran, and the two sides signed an agreement in which Iran vowed to continue monitoring activities of its nuclear sites, but of course insisted not to hand over the camera tapes.
Iran also warned that if the United States doesn’t lift its tough economic sanctions on Iran, it would delete all the data recorded in these three months. According to Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, since withdrawal, the United States has imposed 1,600 sanctions on Iran, which should completely be lifted to restore the deal.
What has frightened other European and American leaders, is that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran is capable of boosting its uranium enrichment to 60 percent from the current 20 percent. Of course he also stated that the country won’t use it for nuclear weapons.
The nuclear deadlock, perplexed further by Israel and some Arab countries pressure on Biden administration, has taken new face after US-Iran confrontation in Syria. Time will show which side steps in first.