So what’s behind the U.S. flip-flop on the Iran nuclear deal? — RT World News

America may well rejoin the JCPOA, but it will surely leave as soon as its domestic strategy changes

Economic sanctions have been a cornerstone of US policy toward Iran for more than two decades. It turns out that as the United States prepares to lift sanctions against that country by joining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), global energy security is more important than the much-hyped Iranian nuclear threat.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, when it comes to using economic sanctions as a weapon, politics doesn’t matter. The case of Iran and its nuclear program is a clear example. Under the administrations of Republican President George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, the United States has used the alleged threat posed by this program – claimed by the United States to be military in nature, but to be used for military purposes only. by Iran – as justification for imposing harsh economic sanctions ostensibly designed to compel the Iranian government to stop acquiring and using uranium enrichment technology.

Ultimately, this policy failed in the face of Iran’s refusal to yield on the issue of its rights under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program including the entire nuclear cycle. nuclear fuel. By building a case for sanctions as the only alternative to military action to eliminate the alleged threat posed by the program, the United States had locked itself in a corner where, when sanctions had clearly failed, the only choice left was one that the United States was unable to do. position to take.

This is the real background to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the JCPOA. It was not US sanctions that brought Tehran to the negotiating table. In fact, it was the failure of these sanctions that forced the United States to reverse its previous policy position, which was intolerant of any Iranian uranium enrichment capability. For Iran, the JCPOA was a win-win situation: it was able to keep its uranium enrichment program, albeit with significant temporary restrictions and under the strict control of the International Energy Agency Atomic Energy (IAEA), which used an intrusive on-site inspection regime. , as well as the lifting of US and international sanctions.

The respite of a sanctions-free existence for Iran, however, was short-lived. There were two hard-wired realities in the JCPOA, which from an American perspective have always condemned the deal to be successfully completed. First and foremost, the so-called “sunset clauses” which imposed strict restrictions on the scope and scale of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, including limitations on the number and the quality of centrifuges he could use in this effort. As the JCPOA matured, these clauses would eventually be lifted, allowing Iran to install more efficient centrifuges in greater numbers.

Since the stated goal of the JCPOA was to deprive Iran of a so-called “breakout” capability (defined as the period of time required for Iran to produce enough fissile material for the production of a single nuclear device if all restrictions were removed) of less than a year, it was clear that once the sunset clauses were lifted, this apportionment calculation would drop significantly, over a period of months or even weeks. Therein lies the poison pill of the deal: the United States continued to maintain that Iran had implemented a nuclear weapons program that had been mothballed in 2003, but which had not never declared by Iran and as such continued to exist.

If one accepts this narrative at face value – Iran denies ever having such a program, and the IAEA has been unable to prove that one ever existed – then the expiration of sunset clauses would put Iran on the fast track to acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. This is the logic behind Obama’s admission, made in an April 2015 interview with US broadcaster NPR, that the United States would “reconsider” the viability of the JCPOA as an instrument of American policy on the eve of the expiration of the clauses. In short, the JCPOA was just a placeholder, designed to give the United States time to find a way to convince Iran to give up what the deal stipulated: its uranium enrichment program. .

The other fatal flaw of the JCPOA was that, from the American point of view, it lacked the force of a formal treaty. Unable to get the agreement ratified by the Senate, Obama signed it into law through his inherent executive powers, meaning that any successive administration could simply revoke the relevant executive order and the JCPOA would no longer be, from the point of view. from an American perspective.

This is precisely what happened when Donald Trump was elected president. In just over a year, citing Israeli intelligence that Iran had an undeclared nuclear weapons program and highlighting the risk of allowing Iran access to technologies it might once legally possess the sunset clauses expired, Trump simply withdrew from the JCPOA, instituting a policy of “maximum pressure” through tough economic sanctions specifically targeting Iran’s energy sector. Citing the hand-in-hand relationship between Iran’s economy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Trump administration has labeled the entity a terrorist organization, exposing it to targeted sanctions.

Iran nuclear deal eclipses Russia concerns on oil market radar

The decision to leave the JCPOA was not welcomed by either Iran or the other members of the agreement (Russia, China, France, United Kingdom, Germany and European Union). Nor did the US policy of maximum pressure against Iran, which used so-called “secondary sanctions” against any nation or company that did business with Iran. The strain the policy has caused over US relations with its European allies, combined with deteriorating security in the Persian Gulf region, prompted President Joe Biden’s administration to pledge to join the JCPOA. as soon as possible after coming to power in early 2021.

Negotiations between the United States and the other parties to the Iran nuclear deal have been going on for almost a year now. What should have been nothing more than the signing of an executive order reversing the actions of the Trump administration turned into a full-fledged effort by the Biden administration to renegotiate the JCPOA which, among other things, extended the “sunset clauses” deadline and retained the non-permanent characteristic of the United States’ participation, ie no binding treaty, but simply a renewal of executive powers that can be terminated at any time.

By fall 2021, negotiations had bogged down, with many observers wondering if a deal could be reached. And then came Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

Overnight, the subterfuge of US concern over Iran’s nuclear capability dissolved in the face of the brutal economic reality brought about by the US-led effort to sanction Russia, including including its oil and gas energy sector. Concerns about global oil supply suddenly made Iranian oil, which the United States had tried to block the world market through sanctions, an invaluable geopolitical asset. The need to introduce this oil into the global energy supply chain has had the effect of eliminating most if not all of the objections that the United States had raised regarding the renewal of the JCPOA. The US even sweetened the pot by apparently being open to revoking the IRGC’s “terrorist” label. And, in a final show of recklessness, he accepted Russia’s demands that any economic interaction between Moscow and Tehran protected by the JCPOA cannot be subject to US sanction of Russia because of its Ukrainian operations.

That still leaves the temporary status of any US commitment to the Iran deal on the table. This, however, is non-negotiable – there is simply no way for Biden to get the JCPOA in its original form through the Senate ratification process. Iran and the other parties to the agreement should have no illusions about American commitments in this regard. There will come a time in the not-too-distant future when an American president, whether Democrat or Republican, will be forced, for domestic political reasons, to withdraw from the JCPOA again. The inherent inconsistencies in US policy formulation — that Iran has an undeclared nuclear weapons program that would be accelerated once the JCPOA sunset clauses expire — demand as much.

That this reasoning is purely political in nature, however, was revealed by how quickly the Biden administration rushed to finalize a renewal of the JCPOA. Apparently, creating the conditions to keep gas prices low at the pumps in the run-up to midterm elections later this year outweighs any genuine concern about the threat posed to international peace and security by a revamped Iranian uranium enrichment program.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


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