Tehran, Iran, Oct. 11
By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:
The United States’ leaving the Iran deal will not terminate it, some countries have been saying over the past weeks as President Donald Trump’s promised day to decertify the deal is approaching.
Trump is a stern critic of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed in 2015 between Iran and six world powers, including the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia, and Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions put in place against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.
Decertifying the deal will open the way for Congress to possibly authorize more restrictive measures against Iran. Congress requires the president to certify Iranian compliance with the deal every 90 days. The next certification date is Oct. 15.
During his speech at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19, the US president described the JCPOA as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into,” a characterization he often used during his presidential campaign.
Some international parties in the meantime have said that it would not be the end of the deal if Washington walks out. Austria’s permanent representative to the United Nations Jan Kickert recently said the Iran nuclear deal will continue to stand even if the United States withdraws from it. One meaning of such statements, which the common Iranian would like to hear, is that everybody will keep calm after the US leaves the deal.
However, what seems to be the real purpose of such talk is to predispose Iran to a situation when the US has actually walked out of the deal while Iran has still to be bound to it, notwithstanding the fact that without the US, Iran would not be able even to draw the meager benefit from the JCPOA it has scratched so far.
What surprises me is the fact that such statements are reflected in Iranian news outlets with the goodwill and complacency of the common audience. Kickert made this statement in an interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency. The interview appeared on Press TV website with this same remark as headline! The Young Journalists Club, a subsidiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, also recently took to the headline a CCTV anchor’s statement that Washington’s leaving JCPOA would not kill it.
Under the law, when the US president decertifies the deal, Congress will have 60 days to decide whether to re-impose sanctions lifted under the deal.
The point here is that decertifying the deal will not kill it – JCPOA will survive, however as a dismantled leftover. This strategy was previewed by Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in September, and it was reported recently that the plan had been unanimously recommended by the president’s national security team.
The goal behind the strategy, three administration officials told Bloomberg last week, would be to present a unified front from the administration and Congress to European allies.
The practical step after Trump decertifies the JCPOA would be to pressure Iran not via nuclear-related sanctions (which would violate the deal) but based on other accusations. This is exactly what other world powers, which are party to the deal, are willing to participate in.
“We are… offering to help influence Iran’s behavior in the region. Germany is ready to do this, but not at the price of sacrificing the nuclear deal,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said this week in remarks addressing Trump’s expected decertification.
French President Emmanuel Macron also in September expressed dissatisfaction with JCPOA, saying the deal is not enough in remarks where he called for more sanctions on Tehran.
Iran has already suffered much due to Washington’s lack of respect for the deal in spirit. Although Iran has signed many big economic contracts with giant European and Asian companies after the deal lifted sanctions on the Islamic Republic, no American company has dared approach Tehran due to restrictions imposed by the Treasury. The use of the US dollar in transactions with Iran is also prohibited under a set of US sanctions, something that still keeps Iran’s banking sector aloof from the global community.