Why Reviving the Iran Nuclear Deal won't be Easy?

ECONOMYCOMMENTARY 22.03.2021
Yasir Rashid Assistant, Economy

Reviving the Iran nuclear deal won't be easy and requires tackling a multitude of issues.

Although Joe Biden's victory in the November 2020 US presidential election raised hopes for an unequivocal return to the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), nearly three months after Biden took office, the country has not yet returned to the deal. Reviving the Iran nuclear deal faces many challenges and obstacles and requires tackling a multitude of issues. In an analysis made by the Washington Post, Eric Brewer, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Henry Rome, a senior analyst on Iran, Israel, and global macro issues at the Eurasia Group, states that "tackling the three issues altogether, at once, could make for longer talks, along with more progress within Iran’s nuclear program."

What are the Three Issues?

Imposing curtails on the international inspectors' access to Iran's nuclear program in February 2021 by Tehran, and testing advanced centrifuge models that enrich uranium more efficiently has been cited as one of the main challenges to reviving the nuclear deal. In the view of the United States and the other parties to the deal, Iran's move is a violation of the JCPOA, so limiting the International Atomic Energy Agency's oversight of Iran's nuclear activities has raised deep concerns about the country's approach to building nuclear weapons. Extending restrictions on monitoring Iran's nuclear activities, "(IAEA) inspectors might have to play catch-up when they regain access and could have additional questions for Iran," making the deal difficult to revive.

Lifting the sanctions related to terrorism and human rights imposed by the US former president, Donald Trump, against "Iranian hackers, Iranians suspected of human rights abuses and those involved in its ballistic missile program or election interference" is another challenge to reinvigorating the nuclear deal. With Iran explicitly insisting on lifting all of the sanctions, removing them will be the toughest decision for the Biden administration. Because lifting the sanctions related to terrorism and human rights will be seen as contrary to the US national security interests, it would not be politically easy for the Biden administration to wipe the slate clean from the past four years. In this regard, “Republicans and some Democrats will also object to removing terrorism sanctions against entities the United States has linked to terrorist groups, making this part of the unwinding especially sensitive”.

The inadequacy of the JCPOA, as well as the issue of Iran's ballistic missiles, is another issue that has been cited as an obstacle to reviving the JCPOA. Many politicians in the US, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, appear in consensus on one issue that "the JCPOA alone is insufficient to address the longer-term challenges posed by Iran, such as its ballistic missile program and destabilizing regional behavior." Many supporters and critics of the deal also agree that Washington should work to extend the period of restrictions it has imposed on Iran's nuclear program. This common consensus in the US makes the JCPOA a divisive topic in Washington and puts the Biden government in a difficult position to revive the deal.

Nuclear deal, JCPOA, US, Iran

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