DUE mostly to the rash decisions of the Trump administration, the Iran nuclear deal has been dealt several mortal blows, and if urgent measures are not taken, the agreement may soon be history. However, some positive movement was made in this regard on Tuesday when the other signatories of the deal — minus the US, which pulled out in 2018 — met in Vienna. An EU official who chaired the talks tweeted that the participants of the meeting were “united in resolve to preserve” the agreement. Moreover, a Chinese official commented that while Tehran needed to return to “full compliance ... the economic benefit that is due to Iran needs to be provided”. The Chinese official also criticised the US for “making a mockery of international law [in its] attempt to sabotage ... the JCPOA”, using the official abbreviation of the deal.

Clearly, in the opinion of the deal’s signatories, including some of America’s closest allies in Europe, the nuclear agreement is worth saving. This serves as a strong critique of Donald Trump’s foreign policy, particularly his handling of the Iran file, as the world community is in no mood to see a fresh confrontation emerge in the Middle East. Moreover, Iran did the right thing recently by allowing IAEA inspectors access to a number of suspected nuclear sites. As the world continues to be battered by health and economic crises, instead of fanning the flames all states need to find diplomatic solutions to geopolitical problems. This is exactly what the JCPOA was designed to do, until the Trump White House did all it could to scuttle the deal. As the US presidential election approaches, Mr Trump and his advisers may try to look even tougher on Iran to please the evangelicals, a key component of the US president’s vote bank. However, enough damage has been done in this regard. The deal must be saved, which is why the US should abandon its confrontational posture and let Iran resume economic activities with the world. If Tehran — under tremendous strain due to US sanctions — fails to reap the financial benefits of the deal, it may also abandon it, as its leaders have clearly indicated. To prevent such a scenario, the signatories of the JCPOA must continue to pressure the US to return to the deal. The next few months will show whether diplomacy triumphs, or bellicosity carries the day where the nuclear deal is concerned.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2020

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