Palais Coburg hotel, the venue of Iran nuclear talks in Vienna

JCPOA Will Remain in Suspension, Iranian Pundits Say

Monday, 05/08/2023

A foreign policy analyst in Tehran says Iran and the world powers do not know what to do with the corpse of the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA.

All the parties involved know that the dead body of the JCPOA is in the political morgue and cannot be revived any longer, said Mehdi Motaharnia in an interview with Nameh Newswebsite in Tehran. 

According to the website, no one talks about the need to revive the JCPOA on the May 8 anniversary of former US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the deal. What does the silence mean? Motaharnia answered: The JCPOA is dead, but no one wants to bury it. 

Referring to a remark by Hamid Aboutalebi, an adviser to former President Hassan Rouhani who had said "returning to the JCPOA or making changes in it is no longer possible," Motaharnia pointed out that this is not a new situation. Even if the two sides return to something called the JCOA, it will be different from the 2015 agreement. "I have always said that reviving the JCPOA is wishful thinking," Motaharnia added. 

Pundit Mehdi Motaharnia

The analyst further said that "We have to admit that the Biden administration has tightened sanctions on Iran. Despite the fact that some in Iran believed that the Biden Administration will come to terms with the Raisi government. At the time they believed that if Iran stands firm against the United States, Washington will return to the JCPOA. However, despite Iran's insistence on its terms, the United States did not give in and did not put a step back. Even Iran's ‘looking East’ policy of closer ties with China and Russia did not persuade Washington to soften its position. 

Iran hoped that an anti-Western front will be formed by China after the Ukraine war started, but Beijing was not interested in that either. Nor it is interested to stand against Washington over the JCPOA, Motaharnia said, adding that although Tehran had high hopes about joining the Shanghai treaty, nothing in particular happened in Tehran's interest. Furthermore, The Chinese are not interested in opposing the United States as Iran's strategic partners. 

Iran can only be happy about making a deal with Saudi Arabia and sign some contracts with Syria, but these cannot bring about a serious change in its ailing economy, said Motaharnia.

On the other hand, another Iranian foreign policy analyst Amir Ali Abolfath told Nameh News that the European signatories of the JCPOA are waiting to see if there will be an agreement with Iran over the nuclear issue. If that is not feasible, then they will use the JCPOA's ‘trigger mechanism’ and make sure that the UN Security Council's pre-JCPOA sanctions against Iran will be brought back as some Western countries have threatened. 

Foreign policy analyst Amir Ali Abolfath

Abolfath said: "Activating the trigger mechanism is a possibility. This is something that has been stipulated in the text of the JCPOA. So far it has not been used although Iran reduced its commitments under the JCPOA after the US pull-out. He said that the mechanism might be activated if the Europeans see that UN Resolution 2231 based on which sanctions against Iran were lifted is reaching its expiry date. Then, as there will be no JCPOA, there won't be a trigger mechanism either. Europeans would activate the trigger mechanism in that case, Abolfath said. 

Iran's former government had threatened that if other JCPOA member states activate the trigger mechanism, Iran might consider exiting the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

Abolfath, however, added that UN resolutions can be effective on Iran only if they affect more areas than the US sanctions, which they are not. So, Iran can rest assured that if the trigger mechanism is activated its situation will not become more difficult. Abolfath's take on the matter is that "The JCPOA will not be revived, and the United States will not return to its commitments. So, the JCPOA will continue to remain in the same state of lull and the world will not return to the pre-JCPOA period. That means the same agreement nobody is committed to will be still useful."

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