Iran deal in peril

Published May 6, 2022

EFFORTS to revive the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 have seen many ups and downs, but recent indications indicate that the deal may be ‘near death’. It is unfortunate that the meticulously reached agreement was torpedoed unilaterally by the Trump administration in 2018. This move only widened the trust deficit between the parties. The Ukraine war has further complicated matters, exposing clear divisions between the P5+1, specifically Russia and the US and its European allies. Moreover, the removal of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard from America’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations is another major sticking point. Western diplomats quoted in the media have therefore quietly expressed apprehensions that the deal may be close to its demise.

If the Western parties to the deal are serious about salvaging the agreement, they would have to assure Iran of two things. Firstly, Tehran would want a promise that all economic sanctions would be lifted in exchange for compliance with the deal, and that the Islamic Republic would be free to sell its oil and gas in the world market. Secondly, the US should consider removing the Revolutionary Guard from its terrorism list. Whatever Washington’s claims, the fact remains that the Guard is an essential part of Iran’s defensive structure, and chances of the deal succeeding without the removal of the Pasdaran from the terrorism list are slim. As one Iranian official has told the media, the Pasdaran issue “is our red line”. The ball, therefore, is in the West’s court. All parties need to take bold steps to revive the deal, which has the potential to help normalise relations between Iran and the West. However, the opposite is also true. Should the deal collapse, the level of confrontation between Iran and its allies and the pro-American camp in the Middle East will rise to far more dangerous levels. Israel has already made a number of irresponsible statements in this regard, and any brinkmanship on its part can spark a fresh regional conflagration.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2022

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