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Iran nuclear deal on ‘life support’

Iran nuclear
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The Iran Nuclear Deal may be in jeopardy after the recent shifts in Trump’s cabinet. John Bolton became the national security advisor, replacing H.R McMaster. And Mike Pompeo became the secretary of state after Trump fired Rex Tillerson. Both Bolton and Pompeo are seen as hawkish and pro-war in Washington.

The nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between Iran and six world powers-the permanent members of the UN Security Council i.e. China, US, UK, France and Russia and Germany. Economic sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for a number of concessions made by Iran. Out of 20,000 centrifuges that Iran had, only 5060 of the oldest and least efficient technology would remain operable for the next 10 years. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have ‘unprecedented access’ to nuclear facilities in Iran to ensure Tehran’s compliance with the provisions of the deal.

The agreement was reached after years of negotiation between diplomats and nuclear experts from various countries. The deal can’t be abrogated unilaterally, since the deal was brokered by the UN.

Iran’s uranium stockpile had also been reduced by 98% to 300 kilograms for 15 years. The deal was signed in Vienna on the 14th of July, 2015 and aims to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons in return for sanction relief. Iran could now sell oil and gas in international markets and businesses could invest in the country as well. It was the signature foreign policy achievement of Barrack Obama.

However, Trump and new members of his cabinet have lambasted the deal innumerable times. The new secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, once said, while appearing on Fox news, that Trump was right in calling the nuclear deal a “disaster”. “What America ought to do, and with a new president, ought to talk to the Iranians and explain to them, those agreements are off,” he said. When President Trump sacked Tillerson, he explained his decision that he and his former secretary of state didn’t see eye to eye on a number of key issues, including the Iran nuclear deal.

Read more: China closes US’ exit door from Iran nuclear deal

Tillerson was widely seen to be supportive of the deal and had recommended that the President certify Iran’s compliance with it. “When you look at the Iran deal, I think it’s terrible. I guess he [Tillerson] thought it was OK,” he said. In Obama’s words, the purpose of the deal was to prevent a war with Iran. John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, once called the deal “the worst act of appeasement in American history.”

On one occasion, Bolton said, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” According to the National Iranian American Council, with John Bolton now chosen as National Security Advisor, Trump is assembling a cabinet to wage war on Iran. “Donald Trump may have just effectively declared war on Iran,” the president of the council, Trita Parsi said in a statement. Elizabeth Warren, a democratic senator, said Bolton “never met a war he didn’t like”. According to former defense minister of Israel, Bolton even wanted Israel to attack Iran.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have ‘unprecedented access’ to nuclear facilities in Iran to ensure Tehran’s compliance with the provisions of the deal.

Iranian officials have also expressed their concern over Trump’s cabinet picks. Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, the spokesman for the parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy in Iran, told ISNA, the Iranian Students’ News Agency, that the appointment of Bolton and Pompeo “proves that the final US purpose is overthrowing the Islamic Republic [of Iran].” Trump himself has been criticizing the JCPOA since his election campaign. He once called it the ‘worst deal ever’. Though, given Trump’s aversion to reading, it is doubtful that he actually read the text of the document.

Read more: Iran sticking to nuclear deal: UN watchdog

Trump has until May 12th to certify that Iran has honored the agreement. Under the terms of the deal, the US President has to waive sanctions on Iran periodically. This is meant to allay American ‘apprehension’ about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Tehran has, however, given assurances that it will stand by the deal. The foreign policy chief of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, in January of this year, has also said that the EU is committed to fully supporting the effective implementation of the nuclear deal, in a meeting attended by foreign ministers of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Donald Trump may have just effectively declared war on Iran,” the president of the council, Trita Parsi said in a statement. Elizabeth Warren, a democratic senator, said Bolton “never met a war he didn’t like.

Secondary sanctions by the US still apply on Iran, for what Washington alleges is Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Mogherini, taking a more balanced tone as compared with Trump or his cabinet, said, “”While we have expressed concerns related to other issues, such as development of ballistic missiles and increasing tensions in the region, these issues are outside the scope of the nuclear agreement and are and will be addressed in the relevant formats and forums.”

Read more: Putin promises Tehran of support if US-Iran nuclear deal is scrapped…

The agreement was reached after years of negotiation between diplomats and nuclear experts from various countries. The deal can’t be abrogated unilaterally since the deal was brokered by the UN. If the US President fails to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal, the region which has been embroiled in war for decades – may become even more unstable. In the interest of regional and global stability, the remaining adults in the room i.e. officials from Iran, representatives from the EU and UNSC members need to salvage the nuclear deal and, if possible, convince the Americans to not forgo their own commitments under the JCPOA.

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