Iranian media have been expressing renewed concerns lately over the unclear fate of the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Reformist daily Shargh wrote in a commentary on April 20 that economic, political and social conditions in Iran are fragile and the three challenges of Iran's involvement in the Ukraine war, differences with International Atomic Agency (IAEA) over "safeguard" issues and the Iranian regime's human rights record cast a shadow of doubt over the future of the nuclear deal (JCPOA).
Media commentator and former diplomat Ali Bigdeli wrote in a commentary in Etemad Online that the revival of the nuclear deal is the prerequisite for maintaining relations with all the of the regional countries. Bigdeli added that "although Saudi Arabia has said that it is prepared to invest in Iran, no investment will be possible without first solving the problem of the JCPOA."
During the past six weeks, media in Tehran have been discussing the implications of Iran's rapprochement with Saudi Arabia on the future of Tehran's foreign policy and developments in West Asia and beyond. The media generally believe that the resumption of ties between Tehran and Riyadh is a prelude to a wider range of developments in Yemen and Syria and will also positively affect ties between Saudi Arabia and Palestinian groups, Shargh wrote.
Shargh newspaper argued that the improved relations with Riyadh can also lead to the mending of Iran's regional ties with countries such as Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.
However, the significance of the rapprochement with Saudi Arabia has even overshadowed by other issues such as the fate of Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's negotiations with the United States to revive the JCPOA. But a key question is whether Iran now believes it no longer needs to settle its differences with the IAEA and revive the nuclear deal.
Media commentator and former diplomat Ali Bigdeli
The spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Naser Kanaani has responded to the same question by reiterating that the current government in Iran will not mix the issue of a nuclear agreement with key economic issues or diplomacy in other areas.
Kanaani further said that Tehran will benefit from the rapprochement with Riyadh to serve its interests and enhance its coordination with regional countries and beyond.
Regardless of how consistent the spokesman's statement is with what is taking place on the ground, Shargh noted, that Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia are affected by international developments. Shargh argued in the commentary that Iran cannot ignore the significance of reviving the JCOA in its international relations. If Tehran mends its ties with the big powers, its regional relations will also be put on the right track.
Bigdeli in his commentary maintained that Saudi Arabia's first motivation for the rapprochement with Iran was end the Yemeni crisis. Riyadh needed to end the conflict in Yemen to be able to further major development projects on the shores of the Red Sea. Riyadh also needed security for its $500 billion project to build a new city. Bigdeli added that Riyadh has undertaken to reconstruct Yemen, pay the government employees’ deferred salaries and create a central government in Sana.
For Iran, the benefit was to end it isolation in the region. Nonetheless, Iran is eyeing the diplomatic rather than the economic benefits of the restoration of its ties with Saudi Arabia. Without resolving the JCPOA issue and opening the international banking system shut off by US sanctions, no one can invest in Iran. Bigdeli added that even an interim agreement with the United States will not solve Iran's problems although it may instil hope in Tehran.