The nuclear deal is the best possible way to defuse tensions between Tehran and the West
Relaunching the 2015 nuclear deal is the best possible mechanism to reduce tensions between Iran and the West, a former diplomat says.
“The best path – the one that could ultimately alleviate the current crisis – is to revive the Iran nuclear deal,” Hossein Mousavian said in an article published by Middle East Eye.
The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, promised sanctions relief on Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, but the United States pulled out in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions that have encouraged Iran to reconsider its commitments.
Negotiations began in April 2021 in Vienna, Austria to determine how the two sides can resume compliance, but have been stalled for months over final differences.
“Negotiations between Iran and world powers to revive the nuclear deal have turned into a long and difficult process with no tangible results so far,” Mousavian said.
US officials also said the talks were off the agenda due to other developments, including riots in Iran and the accusation of Tehran supplying arms to Russia for them to be used in its war against Ukraine.
Robert Malley, the US envoy for Iran, recently said the administration was not going to “waste time” trying to revive the deal, as Tehran reportedly cracked down on protesters at home and backed the war of Russia in Ukraine.
Iranian cities have seen protests following the death of a young girl in police custody in late September, which then turned into violent clashes with security forces.
Tehran officials blame the West for provoking and fueling violence among the rioters to advance their own political agenda.
Western countries have also accused Iran of supplying Russia with drones for its war in Ukraine, which Tehran denies, while admitting that a small number of aerial vehicles were donated to Moscow months before the conflict.
As such, “the relaunch of the nuclear deal remains in limbo,” Mousavian said.
Under these circumstances, “the West should obtain a coherent analysis of the political landscape before adopting policies towards the Islamic Republic”, according to the expert.
Contrary to Western characterization of recent political developments in Iran, the ongoing social movement does not bear the hallmarks of a “revolution” that would overthrow the Iranian government, as Western media often claim, he explained.
Mousavian acknowledged that a significant segment of Iran’s population – particularly young people – has a range of economic, political and social grievances, which have been compounded by the reimposition of sanctions by the United States.
However, these grievances and people’s expressions of frustration do not suggest that the Iranian government will be overthrown, he said.
Moreover, if Western powers try to corner Iran and reinstate UN sanctions, Tehran is likely to pull out of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, Mousavian warned.
Iranian officials have implicitly referred to such a move as an option in case negotiations on restoring the JCPOA fail.
“Any military strike from Israel or the United States would probably push Iran to build a nuclear weapon,” Mousavian said.
Therefore, resuscitating the JCPOA remains the best possible mechanism to ensure that Iran does not divert its energies into building a nuclear bomb, he said.
“Reviving the agreement would defuse tensions between the West and Iran and facilitate the international community’s agenda for a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.”
His comments came despite the fact that Iran has consistently denied ambitions to build an atomic bomb, citing a religious edict by Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei that bans production, stockpiling and use of weapons of mass destruction.
On the other hand, Mousavian said, the Iranian government must also revive the JCPOA and take bold decisions on economic reforms and more inclusive social policies to address the internal discontent of the Iranian people.
He called for a state decree on “general amnesty for Iranians abroad” to calm the anger of thousands of Iranian expats, many of whom have family and property in Iran but are too scared to visit the country.
“Along with more inclusive social policies in the country and Iranian neutrality vis-à-vis the war in Ukraine, a rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia would be vital to ensure peace, stability and security. in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East,” he added. .
Tehran and Riyadh severed diplomatic ties in 2016, following an attack on the Saudi embassy in response to the kingdom’s execution of a Shia cleric. So far, five rounds of talks have taken place in Iraq to mend the ties.