Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 28
By Farhad Daneshvar – Trend:
Barbara Slavin of the Atlantic Council estimates that all the damages to the 2015 nuclear deal have already been done, but the historic accord is here to stay.
“Both sides have violated the spirit of the deal, but I think both sides will keep to the letter of the deal, because it is of mutual interest,” Barbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told Trend.
In accordance with the United States’ law, President Donald Trump's administration has declared Iran compliant of the nuclear deal, twice, so far.
Nonetheless, President Trump has threatened with the declaration of Iran’s non-compliancy, for the next review in September.
“Trump complained bitterly about the deal during the campaign and has continued to criticize it. But he is absorbed with other issues now, including getting funding for his ‘border wall’ with Mexico, renegotiating NAFTA and surviving the Russia investigation. So I do not believe this is a major priority for him,” Barbara Slavin added.
The chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Aug 22 that his country is capable of resuming high-level uranium enrichment process within five days, if the US tears up the nuclear deal.
“I believe that the US will continue to declare Iran compliant, but it will couple this with more non-nuclear sanctions and angry rhetoric,” Barbara Slavin suggested.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley meeting with the Atomic Energy Agency's Director Yukiya Amano, in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday, had said that Washington is determined to ensure the International Atomic Energy Agency of the resources it needs for "robust verification of nuclear-related activities in Iran."
In the statement after the meeting Ambassador Nikki Haley said that discussion with the UN nuclear agency's director was concentrated on "ensuring [that] Iran strictly adheres to its obligations."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, earlier this month, had warned that his country could abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA/nuclear deal) within hours, if the US keeps on imposing new sanctions.
Trump incapable of renegotiating nuclear deal
Responding to a question on the possibility of renegotiating the nuclear deal, Barbara Slavin played down such a possibility, saying Trump’s team is ill-equipped to conduct these talks.
“They do not even have the personnel that would be required to undertake such a renegotiation.”
Trump not after war with Iran
The US President Donald Trump may step up pressure on Iran through introducing fresh sanctions but he is neither after waging war against Iran nor escalating US involvement in Syria or Iraq, Barbara Slavin believes so.
“Trump has just grudgingly agreed to keep troops in Afghanistan. I do not see him escalating US involvement in Syria or Iraq or risking a war with Iran”
Earlier last week President Trump ruled out the possibility of withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan saying a hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan would leave a vacuum for terrorists to fill.
Elaborating on the impact of the recent developments within the Trump administration on the US foreign policy, Slavin pointed out that recently exited Steve Bannon was more influential in the domestic policy.
Nonetheless, “the ‘generals’ around Trump have been and will continue to be more influential and they are likely to continue the status quo” when it comes to the foreign policy in particular, Iran and Russia, she said.
Described as Trump’s chief strategist – Steve Bannon was the latest, among the other top aides, who left their posts at the White House and this was received by many as an indication of a possible change in the US foreign policy, in particular, regarding its stances with Iran and Russia.
US is isolated, Europeans should feel stronger
Europeans should feel stronger in their desire to do business in Iran as US President Donald Trump is increasing unpopularity in the US, Barbara Slavin believes.
“As [European] companies become more comfortable in Iran, as they restore old relationships and find people they can trust I think they will go forward”
Since 2015, when the nuclear deal between Iran and the major world powers was signed, international bodies have observed a surge in interest among multinational companies in investing in the Islamic Republic’s economy. Giant oil companies, aircraft manufacturers as well as carmakers are among those who have shown keen interest in Iran’s markets.
Barbara Slavin, further forecasted that Iran over the next four years under President Rouhani’s second term would gradually integrate into the world’s economy.
“I think Iran will slowly but surely increase its economic integration with the outside world”
Second-term-President Hassan Rouhani won the May Elections on a pledge to press ahead with the policy of easing Iran’s political isolation, to further the sanctions relief for the economy.
“I expect continuity, with an emphasis on improving the economy and hopefully some gradual political liberalization,” she said elaborating on Rouhani’s policy prospects, considering the changes in his second-term cabinet.
No alliance between Iran, Russia, Turkey
Barbara Slavin turned down the significance of speculations suggesting the possibility of forming a new alliance between Russia, Iran and Turkey in the region.
“I doubt the formation of any kind of ‘alliance’ but the three countries need to make sure their forces don’t accidentally clash in Syria. They have some other interests in common, including growing economic ties, but Turkey remains more firmly anchored in the West”
Earlier this month the head of Central Command of Iran’s Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad-Hossein Baqeri, paid a rare visit to Turkey. A group of observers believe that the two neighbors, who had previously found an increasing rivalry in Iraq and Syria, are, apparently, making efforts to find common ground; furthermore, even planning out joint operations.
Barbara Slavin also voiced hope that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would contribute to finding a political solution aimed at putting an end to crisis in Syria.
“My hope is that Rouhani will be able to influence [Syrian President Bashar] Assad to agree to a power-sharing, federalist formula to help put an end to the devastating war in Syria”
She further touched upon Tehran-Moscow ties saying Iran-Russia relations will likely “remain close but not intimate”.
Speaking about Tehran-Riyadh tensions, Barbara Slavin, said that Rouhani will try for détente with the Saudis but success there depends on whether the Saudis are amenable.
Last Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested that delegations from Iran and Saudi Arabia would exchange diplomatic visits in near future.