IN the latest sign that all is not well where efforts to revive the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 are concerned, Tehran has disconnected a number of monitoring cameras placed by the International Atomic Energy Agency at its nuclear sites. The move has come in the aftermath of a resolution presented by the UK, France, Germany and the US — four of the six members of the P5+1 — to the IAEA alleging that Iran was “escalating” its nuclear programme. Moreover, in a report issued last month the IAEA also questioned traces of uranium at a number of Iranian sites. Iran, on the other hand, has criticised the moves as “political”, while officials say 80pc of monitoring cameras are still active. These tense exchanges illustrate the fact that the window to revive the deal is fast closing, and with the gulf of mistrust between both sides still pretty wide, saving the JCPOA will be a long shot.
However, the outlook for the region — and the world — in case the JCPOA collapses permanently is grim. With the failure of international diplomacy in the shape of the Ukraine war, we have already witnessed the painful geo-economic effects across the globe, particularly in the energy and commodities sectors. Should tension between Iran and the West rise to greater levels, this would result in even higher energy prices, and a dangerous new conflict breaking out in a sensitive region. Already Israel has been spearheading a covert campaign to assassinate key Iranian officials, while it has reportedly staged hundreds of attacks on Tehran’s assets in Syria. To prevent this cold war turning hot, reviving the nuclear deal — along with restraining Israel — can be a key confidence-building measure. Therefore, both the Western bloc as well as Iran need to show some flexibility and come to a middle point where the deal is concerned. Time is of the essence and further confrontational rhetoric must be eschewed in favour of a more accommodative posture by both sides.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2022