Experts call for return to Iran nuclear deal as outlook darkens
All parties to the negotiations are expressing growing pessimism about the possibility of reaching a new agreement to revive the 2015 agreement, under which Iran severely limited its nuclear program and subjected it to strict international verification in exchange for the lifting of US and international sanctions.
After withdrawing from the deal in 2018, President Donald Trump reinstated sanctions and imposed even more, and Iran increased its uranium enrichment well beyond agreed limits. Biden promised to return to the deal and negotiations began last April.
After the past year of talks, in which Iran and the United States negotiated indirectly through the European parties to the agreement, the two sides agreed on a draft text but no haven’t been able to close a final loophole that has nothing to do with the nuclear deal itself. Iran has revived an initial demand for the United States to lift its foreign terrorist designation against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a concession that Biden advisers say would be politically untenable.
While the talks have not been formally halted, they have been suspended for the past month, while European Union officials, who are coordinating the talks, have tried unsuccessfully to find a compromise.
Those efforts have focused on persuading the US to offer a partial waiver of the IRGC designation and urging Tehran to reciprocate with concessions on areas of US concern outside the parameters. of the nuclear deal, which include Iran’s support for foreign proxy militias and its ballistic missile program.
Virtually all Republican lawmakers and many Democrats have expressed opposition to any deal with Iran, a disapproval that has intensified with reports that the administration has considered lifting the IRGC’s terrorist designation. Within the administration, there is broad consensus on the dangers of not renewing the deal, but significant differences over whether the nuclear risk outweighs the political minefield.
Proponents of even considering removing the designation argue that it would be largely symbolic as the IRGC would remain under numerous other sanctions.
The experts’ statement does not directly mention the terrorist designation but notes that “certain members of Congress are threatening to block” the implementation of the “measures necessary to bring Iran back below the nuclear limits set by the JCPOA”, or the plan joint global action plan, as the agreement is officially known.
He argues that Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign to sanction Iran, which he says was aimed at achieving a “better” or “more comprehensive” deal, “not only failed to produce the promised results; it also paved the way for Iran to take action to breach the JCPOA’s nuclear limits and accelerate its ability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material.
As a result, he said, “it is now estimated that the time it would take Iran to produce a significant amount (25 kg) of bomb-grade uranium…has gone from more than a year under the JCPOA at about a week or two today. .”
Signatories to the statement include current and former officials from the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences, the Arms Control Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Plowshares Fund, as well as former US and European diplomats and academic experts.