Three Years after Conclusion of the Iran Deal and the Choice of Reconciliatory Strategic Necessity

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert in International Issues

On the third anniversary of the signing of Iran's nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the outlook for survival or demise of this important achievement of international diplomacy is closely and effectively related to domestic policies of its signatory countries and the issue of “collective security” in the course of globalization. On July 14, 2018, foundations, content, legal message and peaceful strategic goals of the JCPOA are being strongly overshadowed by the United States’ anti-globalization domestic policy as well as ambitions of Iran's regional rivals. Following unilateral withdrawal of the United States from this accord on May 8, 2018, domestic capacities of European and non-European members of the JCPOA and Iran's effective adaptations led to early steps for the preservation of the JCPOA through future international diplomatic initiatives aimed at protecting this global document.

The United States’ withdrawal from the JCPOA was a clear example of repeated breaches of promise by this superpower and also a reflection of the country’s domestic developments. It also cast doubt on the choice of reconciliatory strategic necessity by the United States in the face of the “Iran exception” within the emerging global order. The goal of such measures by President Donald Trump's team and some hostile regional rivals of Iran is to render ineffective the regional power and policy of Iran three years after signing of the deal. These measures are also in line with the Iranophobic and pro-Israel behaviors through apparent recourse to the issue of nonproliferation.

Under these conditions, global hopes and fears about the JCPOA, as the result of one of the most complicated diplomatic negotiations of the third millennium, and relations between Iran and the United States on the basis of Washington’s true intents about Tehran will greatly expand and become more sensitive. Intensification of the confrontation between the United States and Iran in addition to differences between the viewpoints of Europe and the US on the nature, goals and implementation of the JCPOA, are telltale signs that Iran is the beating heart of the global politics in 2018.

Under these conditions, remarkable differences are developing between the United States and its strategic European allies over the future outlook of the JCPOA. Useless diplomatic trips to the United States by senior European officials during the weeks that followed Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in addition to widening gaps between the two sides of the Atlantic, which were evident in the G7 summit in June 2018, prove that future developments will be marked with intense exchanges.

Under these tumultuous conditions, if the Iranian diplomacy managed to create a serious effect to make the international community accept Iran's standing and facilitate implementation of the JCPOA through its Russian, Chinese and European signatories, it could play an effective role in setting the rules and determining the results of the game.

The effort made by the United States to re-impose bilateral, multilateral and secondary sanctions on Iran and also to intensify economic, political, diplomatic and psychological pressure on Iran through withdrawal from the JCPOA indicates that the US wants to take the deal as hostage. Mounting the maximum degree of pressure on Iran to get it back to the negotiating table and making an effort to change Iran's regional policy are basic goals of this effort. Another goal pursued by the United States’ anti-Iran moves, including by withdrawing from the JCPOA, is to put Iran's nuclear program back on the United Nations Security Council’s agenda.

On July 14, 2018, the process of challenging the JCPOA must be taken into consideration in parallel to the confrontation of the Trump-led America with Iran, Eurasian powers, the European Union and China. This is a major change in the domain of international security paradigms, especially with regard to regional and inter-regional convergence trends, multilateralism and opposition to hegemonic trends. It is also important to see to what extent regional crises in the third millennium, and especially the emerging trade and oil war between America and its strategic rivals and allies, would affect implementation of the JCPOA through such a change in paradigms.

Under these conditions, the America that is led by Trump, as the country’s 45th president, is bent on engineering domestic and foreign policies of effective members of the European Union like France, Britain and Germany in relation to such important mechanisms as the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the crisis in Russia's relations with the West. It is for this reason that the attitude of European countries toward transatlantic relations and their defense and security reliance on America and such institutions as NATO, the EU, the G7, and the G20 has undergone basic alterations.

When it comes to the East and South Asia, Asian cooperation among such key players as China-Russia, India-Russia, Iran-Asian power poles and other important global actors is being reorganized through such international institutions as the BRICS group of countries, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and projects like “One Belt-One Road.” All of these mechanisms aim to fight against the United States’ effort to create new challenges.

Under conditions when the United States is trying through the idea of unilateralism to impose its viewpoints and norms on emerging and multilateral international structures, there is a remarkable amount of time and space in the offing to allow for the expression of one’s views and to increase the effect of such multilateral structures within the emerging world order. One of the most important of these structures is the European Union.

In view of fundamental weaknesses in European structures and given Iran’s possible future option to exit the JCPOA and also despite intense negotiations held by Europeans to save the JCPOA, there is no doubt that there will be serious challenges to guarantee survival of the nuclear deal in the future. Therefore, three years after it was signed, the JCPOA is making recourse to multilateral global mechanisms in order to survive in the emerging world order. As a result, the effort by all non-American signatories to the JCPOA in response to obstructionist measures taken by the United States to block the implantation of the JCPOA and the new rhetoric by Trump’s team about the need to revise international structures, institutions, mechanisms and organizations, can have important effects on emerging international structures, Iran and the issue of the “collective security” three years after signing of the JCPOA. The important point about this process is that the position and future potential of Iran in the West Asia region and a globalized world must be studied from a strategic viewpoint regardless of whether the JCPOA dies or survives. In a final analysis, it must be noted that following the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA near its third anniversary and in view of Iran’s diplomatic backdrop, the international community is sure to see new initiatives and smart diplomatic measures by Iran at international level to meet its national interests within framework of the complicated developments that mark the second decade of the third millennium. These measures will be regulated by Iran to match the realities in case of relative survival or demise of the JCPOA.

*More by Behzad Khoshandam:
*Iran and the Middle East in 2017:
*Iran's Foreign Policy in 2017 :
*Two Years after the Iran Deal and the Choice of Reconciliatory Strategic Necessity:

*Photo Credit: RESS

*These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review's viewpoints.