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Resuming the Iran Nuclear Deal: Easier Said Than Done

What a difference few years can make! My reference is to the Iran Nuclear Agreement the United States, along with China, France, the UK, Russia, and Germany (known as P5+1) have reached with Iran in 2015 regarding the latter’s nuclear program.

Following the U.S. unilateral withdrawal from the agreement in 2018, some countries, including U.S. allies, were convinced that trusting the U.S. is a liability moving forward. They must be asking: How can we trust the U.S. which says one thing, then does another?

With the election of President Biden, P5+1 countries expressed hopes that the U.S. will rejoin the Iran Nuclear Agreement. But President Biden has made it clear that it will rejoin the agreement provided Iran re-complies with its terms. But, it was the U.S. who broke the terms of the agreement in the first place. As a result, Iran refused to return to negotiate its nuclear program, calling on Washington and Western capitals to respect the existing agreement. Fair point, to say the least!

"The nuclear agreement is a multilateral international agreement ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and the parties are clear and unchangeable," argued Saeed Khatibzadeh, Foreign Ministry spokesman.

What is startling is that France is advocating for Saudi Arabia to join the talks! But the Saudis were never part of the original negotiations that led to Iran nuclear deal in 2015 under former President Obama and then Vice President Biden. How odd for France to take this position.

France’s persistence on the Saudis being part of the upcoming Iran negotiations, assuming they occur, merits some scrutiny. It is my opinion that France’s Emanuel Macron wants to divert attention from his own domestic policies’ failures following France’s inability to tackle violence against women, domestic violence, and police brutality. Sadly, France is descending into social chaos and witnessing the gradual fracture of its enlightenment ideals.

It is no secret that some Gulf States, including the United Arab Emirate (UAE) in addition to Saudi Arabia and Israel, have vehemently opposed the Iran nuclear deal in its original from. More so today than before! They are lobbying behind the scenes to ensure major obstacles, including additional new parties to the talks and addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program, are put in place to prevent the restoration of the original agreement.

The push by France does not happen in a vacuum! We should not forget that the sale of French weapons, along with other Western (Germany, the UK, the US) weapons to the Saudis and Emirates, continue to cause massacres of thousands in Yemen.

Many geopolitical analysts are perplexed vis-à-vis President Biden’s and the West – for that matter – new position toward the Iran nuclear deal. I do not see how Iran will accept or agree to these new conditions; thus leading to further uncertainty.

Where from here is anybody’s guess. But what is clear is that the Biden administration has succumbed to foreign and domestic pressure when it comes to the Iran nuclear deal. It is my opinion that President Biden and his Secretary of State, Blinken’s credibility has been shattered.

Geopolitical Implications

Make no mistake. The new conditions put forth by the U.S. will have significant geopolitical implications at all levels — economically, militarily and ideologically. It could prove a game-changer when it comes to geopolitics in the Middle East. And for one, China and Russia will likely formulate their upcoming economic and foreign policies based on the new geopolitical landscape in the region.

The question we need to ask: Will Iran withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)? A possibility, to say the least! There are many scenarios this outcome could lead to.

As argued in my book, Volatile State: Iran in the Nuclear Age, if Iran withdraw from the NPT, it will pave the way for Tehran to pursue the "North Korea model". Doing so, allows Iran to continue its nuclear program clandestinely, purchasing and developing advanced nuclear and missile technologies to enhance its military capabilities. Of note: Before the nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 in the summer of 2015, Iran engaged in clandestine activities to illicitly procure materials necessary for developing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The question remains why when it was revealed that Iran has indeed engaged in illicit activities during the negotiation phase, the West chose not to react. Did the West want to avoid embarrassment? Or was it, yet again, another US/Western intelligence failure?

Moving forward!

I find it unrealistic for Washington to expect full cooperation from Iran as it contains it. Iran challenged the West and successfully overcame the sanctions imposed on it for over thirty years. What makes US policymakers confident that a containment policy will achieve its objectives? Alas, Iran—and the Middle East, for that matter—never ceases to surprise us.

Whatever the outcome may be, given the challenges ahead and the inherent dangers should this policy fail to achieve its objectives, the U.S. should be prepared to live with a nuclear Iran as is the case with Pakistan, India, and North Korea. The only difference is that a nuclear Iran would shadow the security architecture of a Middle East that never ceases to surprise us, forcing world powers to change their strategy on a short notice.

A lesson I learned about International Relations: Context Matters. That the term nuclear capabilities is used should be enough to rattle the neighbors, forcing them to the drawing boards, seeking strategies to mitigate the investable geopolitical shift.

Could Iran fit this model? Time will tell!

David Oualaalou is a Geopolitical Consultant, Award Winning Educator, Veteran, Author, and former International Security analyst in Washington, D.C.

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