Home Global Village The US withdraws from Iran deal: aftermaths

The US withdraws from Iran deal: aftermaths

The decision will affect the acceptability and credibility of US agreements, perhaps make North Korea insecure about their dealings with the U.S. The move will intensify the arms race in Middle East and increase anti-American sentiments in Iran.

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Samran Ali |

Trump’s politics of building walls and international disengagement ascended new heights when Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The decision is termed as bad as the decision to enter Iraq. The two are not similar in their nature but both are equally disruptive in their effects. Its aftershocks will be felt for a long time to come.

JCPOA was reached between Iran and P5+1 (US, UK, France, Russia China and Germany) in 2015, limiting Iranian nuclear activities and giving the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring and verification role. Iran in return got all nuclear-related sanctions lifted and was reconnected to the global market. JCPOA is also a signature agreement of Obama Administration diplomatic legacy, reached after 20 months of negotiations between Iran and P5+1.

Obama’s successor Donald Trump was critical of the deal from the very beginning and termed it “the worst deal ever.” Trump maintained that the deal didn’t bring the Iranian ballistic missile program under its scope and alleged that Iran had continued uranium enrichment beyond a certain stipulated level. Hence, President Trump wanted to fix the agreement and if not, he vowed to impose crippling economic sanctions on Iran and pull out of the deal.

A proactive diplomacy by Iran to keep European members engaged in the deal is required. Iran also needs to find other avenues to safeguard its economic interests. Iran can turn to China and Russia to get support and relief.

Trump sidelined his European allies on the fate of Iranian Nuclear Deal. The other members of P5+1 wanted to keep the deal intact. However, they failed in convincing Trump. The process of rolling back the deal accelerated with the replacement of moderate Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with hawkish Mike Pompeo, former CIA Director. Tillerson was considered one of the obstacles to the killing of the deal. Pompeo, unlike Tillerson, is one of the sharpest critics of the Iran nuclear deal.

The withdrawal will impact Middle Eastern politics in a number of ways. Its primary impact will be on the peace in the Middle East and future non-proliferation efforts. Given the overlapping interests and conflicts in Middle East, the situation will get intense in Syria, where tensions are already high between fighting groups backed by the US and Iran respectively. An arms race may also intensify in the Middle East. Iran has said to give the deal a chance, short of an acceptable outcome it signaled to restart uranium enrichment. A full-fledged uranium enrichment pursuit by Iran will be the most dangerous outcome of the decision. Iran being an NPT signatory, it will have negative implications.

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

The non-proliferation regime is already under threat at a time when major states including US and Russia have embarked upon the path to modernize their nuclear weapons. Trump’s decision on the deal will increase the gravity of the situation. It is ironic that the US wants nuclear non-proliferation when it is making nuclear weapons’ role more relevant in US defence.

The decision will affect the acceptability and credibility of US agreements. A country entering into an agreement with the US will be concerned about its acceptability by future US Administrations. The US will be discussing denuclearization with North Korea. North Korea already has a bitter experience with the US, because of the fate of the North Korean and US 1994 Framework Agreement. This decision will invoke a greater sense of insecurity in the North Koreans and they will seek more credible guarantees from the US, as they will not trust the US even more.

Iran in return got all nuclear-related sanctions lifted and was reconnected to the global market. JCPOA is also a signature agreement of Obama Administration diplomatic legacy, reached after 20 months of negotiations between Iran and P5+1.

It will also affect the Iranian internal politics, strengthening anti-American sentiments. It will make it difficult for the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to handle the hardliners. The popularity of Iranian Regime may also get affected. On the other hand, the Iranian economy will be hit by severe economic sanctions, and the inflation rate may rise, affecting the common Iranians the most. Trump may also be hoping that the unpopularity will strengthen opposition to the regime and increase, given the difficult economic situation for people, in a demand for regime change.

The future of the deal will depend on the other signatories of the deal and Iran. Iran’s decision on the deal will greatly depend on what guarantees and protections the other P-5 countries can offer to Iran. If these countries and Iran are able to find a workable path that takes Iran’s interests into account and limits the adverse consequences of the US withdrawal and protect Iranian interests from the US imposed sanctions, it may ameliorate the situation.

Read more: Iran nuclear deal on ‘life support’

But this will be a difficult task for European countries to give Iran incentives in a highly integrated world economy without US involvement. This approach by France, UK and Germany may also cause a rift between them and the US. The post-withdrawal situation and a tense relationship between the US and its allies may create space for other countries especially China and Russia to fill. The decision will also damage the leverage the US may enjoy in future engagements on Iran especially when dealing with its European allies.

A proactive diplomacy by Iran to keep European members engaged in the deal is required. Iran also needs to find other avenues to safeguard its economic interests. Iran can turn to China and Russia to get support and relief.

The writer is a researcher at the Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad. He can be reached at samranali2222@gmail.com and tweets at @samranali6. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 


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