Steps on JCPOA Revival

The text of the JCPOA with about thirty pages is almost ready. The following steps should be taken to adopt it:

  • The Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) should be removed from the State Department List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). This issue has nothing to do with the JCPOA. For the US it is a domestic issue and for Iran it is a matter of pride.
  • Iran and the IAEA have to clarify the issue of the contaminated particles. Again, it has nothing to do with the JCPOA; but the issue is here now for twenty years and it will not go away because Israel together with Western countries will bring it up time and again. It might be painful for Iran but it is a minor issue.
  • Iran has to restore confidence with the IAEA because the IAEA will supervise the implementation of the JCPOA.

Trump put the IRGC, a branch of the Iranian military, on the FTO list to make a JCPOA revival difficult. However, experts and certain current and former officials, including Javier Solana and Carl Bildt, or Republican Senator Rand Paul, believe such a designation is largely symbolic. In my view, this designation is political. The Republicans in the US-Congress fiercely oppose to take the IRGC from the FTO.

If it remains a designated terrorist organization and incidents happen in the Persian Gulf, it is easy to blame the IRGC and call it a terrorist attack. For stability reasons the IRGC should be taken from the FTO. President Biden looks weak because he does not dare to make a decision on his own and gives in to the Republican opposition.

The main obstacles are the hawks and opponents in the US-Congress. But the JCPOA does not get enough support by both the EU and Iranian Parliament either. The delegations negotiated a decent compromise in Vienna, politicians should not disrupt it. They should have the strength to make the final decisions in favour of the JCPOA.

The Europe-3 (France, Germany, and UK) should recognize their responsibility. After all, the EU chairs the Joint Commission of the JCPOA. They played a constructive role since the negotiations began in April 2021; they should continue to do so. Also, they should put pressure on the US to remove the secondary sanctions that threaten European companies with punishment if they do business with Iran. It would be a signal of good will to help to move forward with the JCPOA.

A failure to revive the JCPOA would be a continuation of Trump’s policy towards Iran. When he called the JCPOA “the worst deal ever”, the EU failed to explain that it was the best negotiated arms control agreement in history. It yielded too much to Trump’s pressure arguing “well the deal is not perfect”! Instead they should have supported it full heartedly!

Iran is not a competitor of the US itself. The US, Israel and some Arab states want to prevent that Iran becomes a too influential power in the region. Keeping up sanctions are one means to constrain Iran’s economy, the Abraham accords (association Israel’s with some Arab states under the auspices of the US) is an anti-Iranian geopolitical alliance in the making. Iran’s best response would be to strengthen regional cooperation with its neighbors.

Probably, Israeli malicious attacks are supposed to derail the JCPOA. The West should do everything to prevent this. It should condemn these acts, what it hardly does, but continue to work on the revival of the JCPOA.

However, Russia was a very constructive party during the negotiations from April 2021 until the start of the war in Ukraine. Russia still supports the JCPOA but its support for it lost steam. The Russian Foreign Minister even requested the trade with Iran should be exempted from the sanctions. It was a no-go for Washington. Russia is asking itself what its benefits of a JCPOA would be. A working JCPOA would be an example that multilateralism is still possible.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of ICDT.

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