US opted for potentially costly strategy by leaving nuclear deal – expert

US opted for potentially costly strategy by leaving nuclear deal – expert

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 18

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Leaving the JCPOA, the United States has opted for a risky and potentially costly strategy, Gianluca Pastori, expert in US-Europe political relations, said in an interview with Azernews.

He was commenting on the consequences for the US-European relations following US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

In the long term, the Iranian deal aimed at promoting the emergence of a new Middle Eastern balance, reducing US political dependence from its allies and allowing them to minimize their involvement in the region, according to the expert.

“Now, this project seems abandoned. Rather, Donald Trump seems sticking to an ‘old’ vision of US role in the Middle East, based on a special relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia and on the containment of Iran,” he said.

From a practical point of view, it means that the US will be increasingly involved (both directly and indirectly) in supporting their Middle Eastern allies and in preserving what they perceive as the best balance of power, thus being less able to allocate resources to other, maybe more important areas, such as the Asia-Pacific region, according to Pastori.

He went on to say that the EU has repeatedly expressed disagreement with Washington and its will to remain engaged with Iran despite Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA.

“From a European perspective, the JCPOA has been a major diplomatic success and many European companies look to Iran as a potential partner to sell their goods or delocalize their production. Russia and China too have reaffirmed their commitment to the JCPOA. The question is whether Iran is still interested in the agreement now that the US has left,” he noted.

By remaining committed, Tehran sends an important political message, according to the expert.

“On the other hand, neither the EU nor Russia or China can affect Iran’s international status as the US can do or transform Iran into a part of a new Middle Eastern order,” he added.

Commenting on the possibility of signing new accord, the expert said that a new deal is difficult to envisage, at least in the short term.

“Donald Trump repeatedly affirmed that he is not interested in sacking the deal in itself; rather, his position is (officially) rejecting the agreement to negotiate a better one. Within the administration, there are some supporters of the JCPOA, such as the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, who once defined it unsatisfactory but the best possible option,” he said.

In the past, Iran clearly stated that it would not enter new negotiations, according to Pastori.

“Moreover, a new deal would go against the Trump’s apparent Middle Eastern strategy. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia refuse any dialogue with Iran and Washington seems unwilling to antagonize its traditional allies,” he added.

The forthcoming U.S. midterm election is another factor pulling in this direction, with the Republican Party – traditionally opposing the JCPOA – forced to reaffirm this negative attitude to defend its current Congressional majority, said the expert.

On May 8, President Donald Trump announced that the United States walks away from the accord reached in 2015 between Tehran and the six world powers. Trump also announced that the U.S. will re-impose the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran’s economy and oil exports, which were waived under the JCPOA.

Whilst the sanctions are effective immediately, there is a wind-down period of 90- or 180-days to allow firms to exit any existing agreements they have with Iran. Trump has also hinted that he might impose additional sanctions on top of those which were waived.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China and Russia – plus Germany signed the landmark nuclear deal on July 14, 2015 and started implementing it on January 16, 2016.

The agreement limits Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for, among other things, the removal of all nuclear-related bans against the Islamic Republic.

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