The Destiny of the JCPOA

The silence of Ali Khamenei, the rotations of Kayhan ​​and Noor News, the cautious hope of the West and Arab states, and the threats of Israel; What will be the fate of the JCPOA?

In recent days, there have been a lot of analyzes and speculations about the prospect of the EU’s nuclear proposal and Iran’s and the US’s response to it. Some consider the agreement to be close and have entered the stage of evaluating the economic benefits of the JCPOA. A group also believes that there is still a long way to reach an agreement.

But focusing on predicting the future of negotiations based on speculations from the EU’s proposal and Tehran’s and Washington’s responses diverts minds from the most important issues in the nuclear case of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This brings the questions that their answers can provide a clearer vision of the fate of the current consultations with the Islamic Republic or any future negotiations.

Are Tehran authorities looking for a permanent solution to the nuclear crisis? Is a stable agreement possible without the normalization of Iran-US relations and with the continued threat of Israel’s destruction? Why did the JCPOA collapse and does Tehran stop its ideological regional activities? Can the Islamic Republic act independently of Russia and in the later stages of China in making decisions about the JCPOA or any other deal with the West?

Iran’s nuclear crisis, which recently passed its 20th anniversary, is a leaked case that forced Tehran’s authorities to interact and negotiate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Until the disclosure of Iran’s nuclear activities in 2002, these programs were being implemented secretly and with a specific purpose. The archive related to the activities of those years, which is now in Israel’s possession and has become one of the main issues of dispute between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, shows that the Islamic Republic was pursuing nuclear activities of a military nature, at least until the disclosure of these programs.

In all these years, Iran developed its nuclear activities, when the sanctions resolutions of the United Nations Security Council were approved one after the other, or during the JCPOA period, and now that the Biden administration has passed the maximum pressure policy of the Donald Trump era.  This process became slower or faster at times, but it never stopped.

In more than two decades, the Islamic Republic of Iran has spent hundreds of billions of dollars directly and indirectly on the nuclear crisis with the goal of deterrence, and an agreement that would release 100 billion dollars of blocked assets is only an opportunity for Tehran’s authorities, not an incentive to neglecting a strategic goal.

On the other hand, the ruling regime in Iran has declared the US and Israel as enemies since the beginning. Today, not only there is no sign of changing this approach or giving up the threat of Israel’s destruction, Tehran is threatening the United States authorities on this country’s soil. At the same time, the US is the main party in nuclear negotiations with Iran, and Israel is its most important strategic partner in the region.

The experience of maximum pressure in the Republican Administrations and the interaction with Tehran in the Democratic Administrations of the United States in the last 20 years also show that the durability of an agreement, along with other factors, depends on the normalization of relations with the United States and Israel or at least putting aside hostility with them.

One of the most important reasons for the collapse of the JCPOA was the security concerns of Israel, the states of the region, and of course the Republicans         concerns about security in the region, and these factors have remained constant in the case of a purely nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic. The JCPOA, did not have any guidelines for missile or regional activities of the Islamic Republic and postponed it to the next stages of JCPOA’s implementation and another round of negotiations. Today, with the weakening of the arms embargoes against Iran, the security concerns of the states in the region are more than when the JCPOA was implemented.

In the meantime, the role of Russia and then China in the decisions made by the authorities of Iran cannot be ignored. This makes Tehran’s decisions dependent on Moscow’s considerations for regulating relations with the US and the EU.

It is difficult to predict politics and it is even more difficult to predict the behavior of a state that only thinks about survival. But the history of the nuclear program is a clear illustration of the fragility of any agreement. Thus, history is more important than prediction.

Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr
Amer Ababakr holds Ph.D. degree, Cyprus International University. His major is in Politics in the Middle East. His fields of interests include international relations, international security, foreign policy, and ethnic conflict.