by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 7, Safar, 1444)
There has been intense speculation in media outlets in recent days about the revival of what is referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This needs careful assessment to separate truth from fiction and outright speculation.
Iran signed the agreement (JCPOA) with P5+1 group of countries in July 2015. The P5+1 refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Talks were facilitated by the European Union foreign policy chief. In return for limiting its nuclear program, Iran was to get relief from US and its allies’ illegal sanctions and the release of all frozen assets, mainly income from oil revenue stuck in foreign banks.
Despite signing the agreement, from day one, Washington showed its duplicitous nature. The US treasury department privately warned European companies not to trade with Iran. Then in May 2018, Donald Trump tore up the entire deal and imposed a raft of new sanctions. Thus, while Iran adhered to its side of the bargain, the collective west led by the US showed that it cannot be trusted even after signing an agreement.
During his presidential campaign in 2020, then candidate Joe Biden had vowed to revive the deal accusing his opponent Trump of damaging US interests. After his election victory, Biden’s team in April 2021 opened indirect talks with Iran in Vienna (Tehran refused to hold face-to-face talks with the US because the latter had walked away from the deal). Indirect discussions with the US were held through the EU foreign policy chief.
These dragged on for more than a year, mainly because of US indecisiveness. On August 8, 2022, the EU Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell presented a modified text to Iran on behalf of the other five members saying it was their ‘final position’. During many rounds of negotiations, Iran insisted on verifiable actions by the US and its allies given Tehran’s bitter experience after signing the 2015 agreement.
Iran responded on August 15 to the EU draft with its own proposals saying that an agreement could be reached if the US showed “realism and flexibility” and provided the guarantees Iran was looking for. It took the US nearly 10 days (August 24) to respond to Iran’s latest proposals.
On August 28, Iran’s Nour News said in a tweet that experts were conducting detailed examination of the US response to Tehran’s proposals. The process is likely to continue until at least September 2. Affiliated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), Nour News is considered a very credible source.
Next day (August 29), Iran’s President Ibrahim Raeisi clarified at a press conference that an agreement to revive the deal hinged on the settlement of safeguards issues with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Without settling those issues, reviving the 2015 deal made no sense, he said.
“Negotiations are underway within the same framework and focused on the removal of sanctions. We insist on verification and confidence-building measures during the course of negotiations. We also emphasize on the full resolution of the safeguard issues. This is an important issue, and any talk of an agreement would have no meaning unless issues are resolved,” President Raeisi said.
What is Iran’s objection to the IAEA concerns? Dr Mohammad Marandi, advisor to the Iranian negotiating team in Vienna, said in a tweet on August 23 that no agreement is possible unless the IAEA Board of Governors closes its case of baseless claims against Iran.
In an interview with CNN on August 22, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi repeated old allegations which Iran had already clarified and provided the necessary access to IAEA. Grossi said, “Give us answers and access to people and places so we can clarify a lot of things that need to be clarified,” calling on Iran to explain what he claimed to be “traces of enriched uranium” found at the country’s nuclear research sites three years ago.
Such demands go beyond the scope of the 2015 JCPOA agreement. Grossi repeats these scandalous allegations fed to him by the zionists. Instead of concentrating on technical issues, he has waded into political matters that are not part of his mandate.
The Qatari-owned channel Al Jazeera reported on August 25 that the deal proposed by the EU “will be carried out in four phases over two 60-day periods, sources with knowledge of the proposed agreement told Al Jazeera Arabic.
“According to the sources, the proposal stipulates that on the day after the agreement is signed, sanctions on 17 Iranian banks, as well as 150 economic institutions, will be lifted, releasing billions of dollars in frozen Iranian funds and oil exports.
“In return, Tehran will immediately begin to reverse steps it has taken to advance its nuclear technology, which is now beyond the scope of what the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says is acceptable.”
Whether these will materialize will depend largely on IAEA dropping its political demands of Tehran. While Iranian negotiators entered these talks with their eyes wide open and did not take any American promises at face value, it can be safely assumed that if it materializes, the latest deal will not last beyond two years. That is because in two years’ time there may be a Republican president in the White House. The Republicans and some Democrats have a pathological aversion to the deal. They take their orders from zionist Israel.
So, if a deal materializes, Iran should not abandon its resistance economy and forge ahead with bilateral agreements with countries like Russia and China as well as non-western dominated multilateral institutions to secure its interests. The Americans cannot be trusted at all. Dishonesty and betrayal are in their genes.