The Iran nuclear deal, six years on

Signatories of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have seen their hopes of restoring the landmark accord by its signing anniversary on Wednesday dashed as multiple factors complicated the process.

A clear date has yet to be decided for the start of the seventh – and likely final – round of talks in Vienna to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that was signed by Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States on July 14, 2015.

This is while all sides have emphasised the necessity of re-establishing the full terms of the accord in order to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and ensure it benefits from the economic gains it was promised under the deal.

The US, which abandoned the deal in 2018 and unilaterally imposed harsh sanctions on Iran – which has led Iran to refuse to negotiate with it directly in Vienna – has said it is ready for another round of talks, facilitated by the European Union, whenever Iran agrees to a date.

The Iranian foreign ministry’s latest quarterly report to parliament on Monday appeared to confirm that politics at play in Tehran have led to the gap between the sixth and seventh round of talks.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote in the report, which was for the first time made public in its entirety of more than 200 pages, that much has been achieved in the Vienna talks  so far, but he hopes the process can be “completed” in the next administration.

Hardline judge Ebrahim Raisi, who won the presidency after a controversial vote on June 18, will take the reins from moderate two-term President Hassan Rouhani, who had championed the accord despite harsh criticism by his political opponents.

Raisi will take office in early August, after which coming to an agreement on restoring the deal seems more likely.

Lifting of US sanctions

Other factors complicating the talks are the layers of sanctions imposed by the US, and the multiple steps Iran has taken to advance its nuclear programme in response to the sanctions or sabotage attacks on its soil.

The endless waves of sanctions imposed, reimposed or re-labeled by the Donald Trump administration entailed some 1,600 designations, including those relating to “terrorism” and human rights violations.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has insisted they all must be lifted, after which Iran will “verify” their effective lifting and then scale back its nuclear steps. It is unclear how long the verification process will take.

Iran has also insisted on a commitment by the US to not renege on the accord again in future as many Republicans and Israeli lobbying groups in Washington, in addition to a number of Arab states, still vehemently oppose the deal. A commitment of an official nature by the US appears unlikely.

But the Iranian foreign minister has sent an optimistic signal on the lifting of sanctions.

In his report to parliament, Zarif said if an agreement is reached in Vienna, in addition to the sectoral sanctions on banking, petrochemicals, and shipping, designations on the supreme leader’s office and the “Foreign Terrorist Organisation” designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be rescinded.

In addition to new sanctions imposed by Trump – on metals, mines, and textiles – Zarif wrote that a number of executive orders issued by the former president and a number of Congress laws such as the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) will be revoked.

The US has not confirmed the Iranian foreign minister’s claims yet.

Related Articles

Back to top button