SHAFAQNA- Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers have stalled, raising concerns that the negotiations may fail, comprehensively killing the 2015 nuclear deal. If this happens, the chances of resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis will be lost for many years, a former Iranian nuclear negotiator, Seyyed Hossein Mousavian wrote in Financial Times.
The Trump administration also mounted a “maximum-pressure campaign” to actively dissuade Britain, France, Germany and other EU members from engaging in trade and business with Iran. In response to this withdrawal of the JCPOA’s agreed trade benefits, Tehran began to exceed its agreed limits both on uranium stocks and enrichment levels.
Joe Biden has tried to negotiate a return to the JCPOA on the basis that the USA will lift sanctions and Iran will return to full compliance, including lowering enrichment levels from 60 per cent to below 5 per cent. Negotiations began in Vienna last April and a 20-page draft deal was agreed.
However, a major obstacle to reviving the JCPOA remains: Iran’s demand that the USA lifts Trump’s designation of Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Conversely, Israel, which is not a party to the deal, argues the IRGC should stay on the list.
So do many in Washington. Last week, the USA’s Senate overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution prohibiting the Biden administration from removing the terrorist designation on the IRGC in exchange for a revival of the deal. It also approved a motion from senator Ted Cruz suggesting that terrorism sanctions should be imposed on the Central Bank of Iran and the IRGC to limit co-operation between Iran and China.
These Senate actions signal clearly to Tehran that any JCPOA revival will probably be short-lived. The USA’s congressional election is only six months away and the Republicans — who look likely to win the majority — have stated they will do everything they can to block the JCPOA; some have said they would tear it up. This leaves little realistic hope for the agreement in the long term.